A way to improve anti-smoking campaigns

The latest anti-smoking spots from American Legacy have generally been poorly received. I was blasé in my “Ad of the Day” appraisal on Adweek.com. This Adrants write-up was scathing. I think I’ve figured out the problem with the whole genre: Once you’ve trotted out all your throat-hole gross-out ads and paraded every conceivable tobacco-related image of pain and suffering before the cameras, what’s left? Almost nothing’s shocking anymore. Except, perhaps, this: images of pretty people smoking at home and at work, in cars, bars and restaurants, on trains, planes and buses. That’s right—anti-smoking advocates would only surprise the public nowadays if they were to run pro-smoking ads! Imagine the consternation and buzz such spots would stir. Of course, there’d be a tiny URL at the bottom of the screen inviting viewers to learn the “truth” about smoking. A re-energized debate might be the lasting legacy of such a campaign. And if a few more people did pick up the habit, well, the trains are too darn crowded anyway.

—Posted by David Gianatasio