Quit: Loony Lungs campaign
Quit: Loony Lungs campaign
A view from Simon Kershaw

CREATIVE STRATEGY: Anti-smoking? Quit shocking and start laughing

A friend of mine recently posted a question on a blog - he'd been approached about working on a tobacco account and turned it down and wondered whether other creatives would do the same.

I cannot work on tobacco. Cars, booze, shopping centres? Done all that and would do it again. But never the nicotine.

My father, who smoked heavily, and worked on the launch of John Player Special (I still vividly recall the black, cylindrical cigarette box, and the black and gold Formula 1 livery), encouraged his children not to smoke.

So I’ve always taken an interest in effective anti-smoking campaigns (not to mention legislation).  Over the years, the statistics, the imagery, the ideas, became more and more disturbing and repulsive.

Do shock tactics work? In a different world – fundraising – the direct marketing experts say it’s a matter of balance.

A powerful image may be necessary to grab the reader’s attention but at the same time, the charity has to give the donor hope that their money will make a difference. If the imagery is too grim many readers will just turn the page.

Smokers have seen (and ignored) all the revolting shots the anti-lobby can throw at them. Where do we go from here? Take a look at this new campaign from the independent charity Quit, 'The Adventures of Loony Lungs' on YouTube.

It’s the animated tales of two stupid characters who willingly throw themselves into harm’s way.  And it made me laugh. But then, Tom & Jerry style violence always does.

In a weird twist, the sibling lungs even set out to kill each other. Apart from the shouty endline, I think Quit may be on to something.

As we all know, humour is one of advertising’s greatest weapons. And it’s not used enough. To see gags in an anti-smoking campaign intrigued me.

I hope it works and the agency picks up an IPA Effectiveness Award. In the meantime, to all those people who vowed to give up this year, good luck.