‘Truth’ Takes On Second-Hand Smoke in New Ads

Crispin Porter + Bo-gusky’s latest “Truth” anti-tobacco television commercials break this week in Florida.

Since 1998, the Miami agency has averaged two or three campaigns per year for the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee. Each effort targets one aspect of thetobacco industry—smokeless products, industry manipulation and, this year, second-hand smoke.

Three 30-second “Lab Rats” commercials will air through the summer on cable and broadcast programs including The Simpsons, Smallville, King of the Hill andthe Jamie Kennedy Experiment.

The demographic target remains teenagers, but the shop’s focus is no longer on adolescent rebellion, said agency art director Paul Keister.

Keister and CP+B copywriter Bob Cianfrone put the facts about the dangers of smoking on nonsmokers in the mouths of lab rats, played byformer Saturday Night Live comedienne Victoria Jackson and Florida actor Kenny Babel.

The ads, directed by Will van der Vlugt in Miami, portray Jackson as a worker rat who does not smoke. Her companion, Willy, characterizes the clueless behavior of most smokers.

In one TV spot, Jackson returns from her weekly medical exam with a cancerous tumor on her shoulder. Indignant, she blames the festering growth on Willy, who dismisses the charge. After offering to “kiss and make it all better,” he burns her with his cigarette.

In another commercial, Jackson learns from newspaper shavings in her cage that burning cigarette smoke contains radioactive material. When she flicks off the room lights to prove it, all the smokers glow green.

Keister said the agency em-ployed the lab animal characters, in part, to keep from portraying smokers as bad people.

“We thought it would be great to draw the parallel that if this rat is being affected [by second-hand smoke], so is a person,” he said.