DC’s Cigarette Campaign

October 1st, 2008 | Sources: Washington Post


That was then. Can today’s anti-smoking campaigns put forward ad strategies that are anywhere near as effective as the diabolically clever ones promulgated by cigarette companies back in the day?

This Is Now

This Is Now

The American Lung Association (ALA) believes it’s possible. The trick is to design a delivery vehicle for the anti-smoking message that is maximally effective given the attitudes and cultural preferences of the target group.

This explains why the ALA released 2 ad campaigns in the Washington, D.C. area this week: the first, in English, targets African Americans. The second, in Spanish, targets Latinos. “These are the populations that have the highest rates of smoking, and of tobacco-related…heart disease, stroke and cancer,” said ALA director Debra Annand.

The English version features former all-pro NFL Cornerback Darrel Green, dressed nattily and intoning calmly that cigarettes contain “250 poisons.” Green adds that folks who call 1-800-QUITNOW are demonstrating “wisdom and strength.”

The Spanish campaign features a sinister image of the devil or perhaps death itself. A blunt message is juxtaposed: “You sold him your soul in exchange for ammonia, urea…arsenic, lead. Quick making excuses. Quit smoking.”

Funding for both campaigns comes from the District’s piece of the 1998 settlement between the government and tobacco companies.

The ads have generated a four-fold increase in calls to the hot line this week. The ALA plans to release a campaign targeting youth smokers next month.


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