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Australian Federal Government

Anti-smoking efforts have produced some of the most compelling campaigns in the world. However, there is a bit of a formula to them: show the nasty long-term health consequences – usually through the depiction of a shocking graphic – and then combine this with an emotional consequence usually related to the impact on your loved ones. And it has been a successful approach, both in terms of ad testing and with smoking rates showing consistent falls for most demographics. Two key insights were uncovered: Although the formula was successful amongst older smokers,

it had little resonance amongst younger smokers. With youth comes a wonderful sense of immortality and living in the now, so the ‘that cigarette you’re smoking might, in 20 to 30 years time, potentially cause some nasty consequences’ formula just doesn’t resonate with people who think it’ll never happen to them and the end of the month is a long time away. The only way to actually cut through with this group was to make the negative consequences of smoking feel much more immediate. A strategy was developed to focus on the negatives related to the cigarette that you’re

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smoking right now. The creative idea leveraged the connection between the 4,000 scary chemicals found in every cigarette and the consequential fear of putting them near our mouth, let alone inhaling them. A visual mnemonic
of a test tube was core to the idea, a cigarette analogy, with 4,000 lethal chemicals bubbling away while unaware teens drag away.

The campaign was rolled out nationally (and since then globally) across TV, outdoor, and print.

The Results

The number of calls to the QUIT Helpline doubled – the usual campaign effect is a 25-35% lift
The campaign has been upheld globally as one of the most successful anti-smoking campaigns on record.