The meaning and the making of the new EU anti-smoking TV advertisements
European Commission - MEMO/05/174 26/05/2005
Brussels, 26 May 2005
Aim of the campaign
Three new anti-tobacco TV advertisements constitute the second stage of the Commission’s latest anti-smoking campaign – “HELP: For a Life Without Tobacco” – following the successful launch of the road-show in March (see IP/05/225). Each advert aims to address one of the 3 prongs of the “HELP” campaign: preventing people (especially young people) from taking up smoking, helping those who already smoke to give up, and promoting tobacco-free environments to reduce the dangers of passive smoking. The adverts, which will be shown in the 25 Member States from June 7th, combine a strong anti-smoking message with advice to those seeking further information or support in the fight against tobacco.
The key target audiences for the ads are young people aged 12 to 18 and young adults aged 18 to 30. The younger of these age groups is of particular importance as 80% of smokers start the habit during their teenage years.
The party-whistle metaphor
The key objective of the advertising campaign is to use humour to highlight how ridiculous smoking really is, as well as to inform EU citizens of the various channels through which they can seek support. By substituting cigarettes with party-whistles, the adverts show the abnormality of smoking and problems it can pose in all sorts of situations. The adverts aim to make people look again at what is perceived to be a normal activity, but is in fact a deadly habit. As the aim of the “HELP” campaign is to provide support to those addicted to, vulnerable to or affected by smoking, the advertisements avoid condemnation of smokers and young people who might be tempted to start, and instead focus the ridicule on the cigarette itself. Each ad ends with a reference to “HELP” internet site and national Quitline number.
Advert 1: Peer pressure amongst teenagers
The scene is set in a school toilet, where a group of young people are seen furtively blowing the party-whistles and hiding them in a panic when a teacher appears. The accompanying message is that “sometimes we would do anything to look like our peers, even start smoking.” The party-whistle substitution shows how absurd the whole situation really is.
Advert 2: The daily life of a smoker
The advertisement follows a “party-whistle addict” through his day, showing how the addiction controls his life, from being the first thought in the morning, to an anti-social interruption at work, to a compulsory end to a meal. The voice-over states that “tobacco often makes us behave in strange ways”, which is compounded with the image of the man huddling outside in the cold or slumped on the floor, miserably blowing a party-whistle.
Advert 3: Passive smoking
The final advertisement shows a crowded party, where the use of the party-whistles by some is clearly proving to be an irritant those not using them. In this case, the whistles represent passive smoke, and the message is that “every cigarette you smoke endangers those around you”.
The production of the advertisements
The new anti-smoking adverts were filmed in Barcelona, Spain, and are the result of 3 months work by an international media team led by French communications expert Pierre Siquier and Danish film director Martin Aamund. During the production phase, the advertisements were tested on 38 focus groups in 20 European countries to ensure that the message would work and have maximum impact in all 25 Member States. The feedback from these pre-trials, in which over 400 people took part, was used to shape the campaign into one that would work effectively in all languages and throughout the EU.
For more information see also IP/05/606.
“HELP” TV advertisement campaign by Member State
*Number of times the advertisements will have been viewed by an individual in the 1st broadcasting phase