Public Health England launches Stoptober with comedy campaign

Comedians Paddy McGuinness and Alastair James Hay (Al Murray) star in Public Health England's £3.2 million campaign for Stoptober, the annual drive to encourage smokers to quit this October.

Dare created the campaign, which launches tonight with a three-minute ad that will air during 'Emmerdale' on ITV. The ad is structured like a comedy sketch show. McGuinness hosts while Murray, Andi Osho and Simon Brodkin (Lee Nelson) tell the studio audience jokes about smoking. It was directed by Rumpus through Dark Energy Films and Rumpus Media.

The campaign will run for seven weeks and will include further TV ads, radio, press and digital spots, as well as social media posts and a 'Stop Blog' housing content from the campaign’s comedian ambassadors.

PHE is also organising a roadshow as part of the campaign, with comedians and entertainers travelling to high streets and shopping centres until 11 October.

Sheila Mitchell, Public Health England’s marketing director, said: "Stoptober is swiftly establishing itself as a landmark event in the annual health calendar. This is the first time that PHE has used humour to reach its audience and marks a new approach to getting the country’s eight million smokers to quit for good this year.

"Our approach of using insight-led content generated by our comedians, delivered in a timely manner through the channels our audience consumes, will help people throughout what can be a difficult and intimating challenge."

Stoptober is entering its third year and is based on research suggesting that smokers who can go 28 days without a cigarette are five times more likely to kick the habit.