By Rebecca Pierce 

This week I decided to draw attention to influential advertising overseas.  On April 6, Ad Age picked a Dutch PSA promoting anti-smoking entitled “What Are You Giving Up?”  for their Creativity Pick of The Day.  Three posters were created by agency Iris Amsterdam for the Dutch organization Stivoro.  The posters depict images created out of a year supply of cigarettes.  The aim of the advertisements is to show that the money wasted indulging in an unhealthy addiction could be better spent on more adventurous and exciting things like the images depicted in the Stivoro anti-smoking campaign ads.  Mainly, the message to smokers really just is, “you sure do waste a lot of money on smoking every year.” 

The Iris agency took an approach that is not unfamiliar but definitely used less in the fight against smoking.  Typically what Americans hear about is anti-smoking campaigns that utilize scare tactics to discourage smoking, showing what smoking can do your lungs or mouth over time or some variation.  Instead of following the scare tactic approach, the Iris agency went with persuasion through economic logic.  The agency’s strategy could possibly be able to persuade smokers to quit or reconsider their habit if their health concerns were previously not enough motivation.

After seeing this artistic approach to anti-smoking, I decided to look up the Truth campaign, the one that used to bombard the television with commercials about revealing the truth behind Big Tobacco’s scams and cigarettes negative health effects.  I remembered the Truth campaign presenting statistics about death tolls and introducing us to people who had lost their voice due to cigarettes and wanted to see what the campaign was currently up to.  Upon entering the “Vault” of advertisements on their website,, there was a section called, “Quitting ain’t Easy,” that featured a 30 second commercial of a man named Steve who had to have his vocal cords removed because of the negative health effects of cigarettes.  Although the Truth campaign looks like it has expanded its approach to catch smokers’ attention through various strategies in advertising, the Truth campaign is still definitely employing scare tactics.

I’m not sure whether creative visuals and economic logic or scare tactics are more persuasive in preventing people from starting to smoke and helping people make the choice to quit smoking.  The anti-smoking advertising industry is a good example of a segment in advertising that uses an abundant number of approaches to persuade people, most approaches having the potential to have an impact.  The fact that a variety of strategies are executed is a wise idea, considering the reasons people choose not to start smoking or choose to quit smoking differ greatly depending on the person.  If the advertising industry wants to help make a dent in the prevention of smoking, I would say keep expanding the different ways in which the industry reaches people.


Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

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