Antismoking Ads Take a Less Defiant Tack ; Legacy Foundation Uses Peer Pressure to Persuade Teenagers to Give Up Habit

By Newman, Andrew Adam | International New York Times, August 11, 2014 | Go to article overview

Antismoking Ads Take a Less Defiant Tack ; Legacy Foundation Uses Peer Pressure to Persuade Teenagers to Give Up Habit


Newman, Andrew Adam, International New York Times


A new anti-smoking campaign by the Legacy foundation is using peer pressure to persuade the roughly 10 percent of teenagers who still smoke to stop.

Smoking had long been a hallmark of teenage rebellion when "Truth," a campaign from the Legacy foundation, introduced its first antismoking commercial in 2000. In the commercial, young people gather at the New York headquarters of the Philip Morris tobacco company and dump 1,200 body bags, representing the number of daily deaths attributed to smoking. The spot sought to shift a perception of cigarettes as a symbol of rebellion to one of the tobacco industry as the real enemy to rebel against.

The continuing "Truth" effort has been widely viewed as a success. A 2009 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, for example, found that from 2000 through 2004, the effort was directly responsible for preventing 450,000 teens from starting to smoke.

Now, Legacy is about to introduce a new effort on behalf of the "Truth" campaign, "Finish It," which takes a decidedly less rebellious tone.

A new commercial opens with "Revolusion," a song by the Swedish performer Elliphant, and white text against an orange background. "In 2000, 23 percent of teens smoked," it reads. "Today, only 9 percent of teens smoke. That's less than the number of VHS tapes sold in 2013. It's less than the number of landlines still in use. But the fight isn't over."

The spot shows photographs that teenage users of Facebook and Instagram have posted of themselves trying to look tough or sexy while smoking, which have garnered hundreds of "likes" from their friends on the social networks.

Similar to the Human Rights Campaign, which last year asked social media users to change their profile pictures to a version of its logo, an equal sign, to show support for marriage equality, the campaign urges teenagers to change their profile pictures, too.

As detailed in the spot, the "Truth" helps users website superimpose a logo for the campaign, an "X" in an orange square, onto a profile picture, meaning their faces are still visible.

"We have the power," text in the spot concludes. "We have the creativity. We will be the generation that ends smoking. Finish it."

The commercial, which will be introduced in the United States on Monday, is part of a campaign that includes cinema advertising and digital advertising, and is being pitched to consumers ages 15 to 21.

It is the first campaign for Legacy, formerly known as the American Legacy Foundation, by 72andSunny in Los Angeles, which is owned by MDC Partners. The Legacy foundation will spend an estimated $130 million on advertising over the next three years on all its antismoking campaigns, which include efforts that focus on older smokers.

Created as part of the 1998 settlement between the tobacco industry and American attorneys general, the foundation received its last major payment from the settlement in 2003 and now relies on investment income from the original financing and new fund-raising. …

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