The Nova Scotia government’s Department of Health and Wellness has launched an advertising campaign that highlights the dwindling number of young people who smoke cigarettes.
The campaign includes television and cinema ads, as well as a website and street-level executions developed by Halifax agency Extreme Group.
The television and cinema spots both depict young adolescents whose attempts at goofing off are disrupted by the lack of a lighter. In one ad, a boy positions himself to ignite his own flatulence but is unable to procure a lighter from any of his friends. In the other spot, a teenager prepares to light a rocket in his backyard, only to find that no one has a lighter handy.
Both spots conclude with the superimposed copy, “Hardly anyone smokes anymore,” followed by a throw to the 15andfalling.ca website. The url refers to results from the 2009 Canadian Tobacco Usage Monitoring Survey, which indicated that only 15% of Canadian teens smoke.
“We discovered that most teens think a lot more people smoke than actually do, and because of that they think it’s acceptable,” said Shawn King, vice-president and chief creative officer at Extreme Group. “When we found out that 85% of teens don’t smoke—which means only 15% of them do—and fed that back to the target, they were shocked.”
Steve Machat, manager of tobacco control, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, expects the campaign’s humour and focus on social norms to make an impact with teens.
“It’s unconventional, compared to campaigns that we’ve seen in other jurisdictions where they emphasize themes that really have nothing to do with the target population, like the dark, unhealthy lung or all those fear tactics,” said Machat.
Extreme Group also developed 9-ft. dinosaurs out of ashtrays, museum-style artifact boxes containing smoking paraphernalia, and spray-painted silhouettes of smokers that disappear over time. This collateral—all of which, King said, was designed to depict smoking as an antiquated habit—has been placed near schools, in malls and in other high-traffic areas in the province.
The campaign launched earlier this week.