Tuesday, 8 September 2015

A Brazilian Reasons Not To Smoke Cigarettes

(Just how many is a brazilian?)

There’s a crowded field of anti-smoking ads across the world, but some of them manage to stand out better than others. This is one of those ads, When Smoking Does Not Kill, for the ParanĂ¡ Health Department.

It’s easy to forget that smoking isn’t a “once you’re out, you’re good” kind of health risk. If you get hit by a car you don’t suddenly get whiplash a year later. If you swim with sharks they don’t follow you home.

But as this ad shows, you can stop smoking and find yourself suffering the after-effects as many as fourteen years later. Shock-moment ads aren’t all that rare when it comes to public health campaigns, but this one generates that shock well. Firstly by taking a new slant on information (the hidden, waiting risks). And secondly by playing around with the setting, undermining the last refuge of cigarette advertising in most countries – point of sale.

It’s true that we have the health warnings on cigarettes, a static reminder of the risks from the moment you buy. But it’s easy to throw some distance between yourself and an image, thinking subconsciously that it’s an exaggeration, or simply that it couldn’t happen to you. Good to see an ad that aggressively challenges that view, and the status quo.

Your cigarette seller has no larynx. What are you going to do now?

The only shame about this ad is that in reality, the vast majority of the audience are not going to be at that potent point of sale moment. The ad isn’t in fact going to be challenging people as they buy a cigarette. It’s challenging them while they sit at home. The video is what most people see, and the impactful part of the ad – that face-to-face interaction – is just a one-off event. So the impact is limited.

You see this a lot at the moment. Think of the “Pub Loo Shocker” in the UK in 2013, a scare video set in a pub toilet, designed to frighten people who might choose to drunk-drive. Interesting? Yes. Engaging? Of course. Viral? Certainly.

But if I’m drunk and about to step into a car my first thought isn’t going to be to look up viral videos.

The message and the execution of the Brazilian ad are extremely powerful. It’s just a shame there isn’t more of it; imagine if they could roll that exact scenario out across a country for a week.

You’d certainly generate more headlines. And you might just challenge a few more people in a serious way.

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