By: Ye Wang

Following the recent buzz surrounding the new smoking ban that’s going to be implemented here on campus, I’ve been thinking about “quit smoking” programs. The school claims to offer smoking cessation programs to students who would like to quit, which of course is not a bad thing, but as a smoker, I know that smoking is an addiction, and that’s precisely what makes it such a hard habit to kick. Not that we smokers don’t try, but smoking cessation programs have left many of us skeptical about their ability to work.

Most of the anti-smoking campaigns, advertisements, or programs that I’ve seen always focused on the negative effects of smoking, which is ideally supposed to scare us off because no one wants to die of lung cancer, emphysema, coronary heart disease, or strokes. But the truth is (and some people would not like to hear this) many of these advertisements/campaigns don’t have much of an effect on us anymore because we are desensitized to all of this negative information. That’s right, shoving pictures of diseased lungs, decaying limbs, some nicotine patches, and antidepressants (because we’re going to get really, really depressed and cry ourselves to sleep) in our faces and telling us we “have to quit” because it’s “bad” and we are “killing ourselves” might not work that well… This leads to me explain what I think is a successful anti-smoking campaign/advertisement from the perspective of a smoker.

A couple of months ago, a video on YouTube of an Ogilvy advertisement shot in Thailand caught my eye. The advertisement got two children to approach adult smokers for a light while holding an unlit cigarette in their hands. And then comes the twist.

Watch it here:

(direct link:

Shockingly, a 40% increase in phone inquiries by smokers who wanted to quit was reported after this campaign was started. What made the Ogilvy commercial so impressionable and unique was that it had a different approach. Instead of telling smokers how and why they should act, it persuaded them to think and draw the same reasons out of themselves. By educating others on the negative effects of smoking, they were able to think about it from a different angle. This time around, what was different was that the strong, powerful voice telling them to quit was not coming from anyone else, but from their own mouths.

I love watching advertisements like this because they are unique. Smoking is just one area in which advertisements could be and should be tweaked to have significantly different effects on people, especially children and adolescents. Witty, well written and presented media content inspire me, challenge my views and allow me to continue to explore how advertising can actually change my life for the better, starting with one less cigarette a day…

Well, at least I’ll try.


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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