Allegra Wiborg, Lead Trainer, Service Delivery
If the current flood of graphic anti-smoking commercials from the CDC takes a shock and awe approach to anti-smoking campaigns, the popular Thai anit-smoking commercial from Ogilvy Thailand is understated but no less shocking.
In the commercial, little ones, cute-as-buttons, approach adults smoking on the street and try to bum a cigarette. Each adult quickly tries to dissuade the kids from smoking. Some lecture and educate: When you smoke you suffer from lung cancer, stoke, emphysema. One says, flat out, Im not going to give you one. The most heartbreaking discouragement comes from an adult who says: If you smoke you die faster, dont you want to live and play?
Then the kids flip the scenario, handing the adults a pamphlet that reads, You worry about me, but what about yourself?
This commercial is chilling and the tactic, it seems, effective: the Thai Health Promotion Foundation reported a 40% increase in calls to the Thai quitline associated with the ad. Why does this tactic work? Here are my thoughts: the thought of children smoking is deeply upsetting. But why? Because childrens lives are precious, vulnerable, and in need of protection.
Ah ha, then the poignant flip in the commercial: But do adults ever look in the mirror and say the same thing about their own lives?
The image seems almost silly: adults dont (usually) talk to themselves. But many people who smoke could benefit from caring for themselves as they would care for others, especially others whose lives they consider to be precious, vulnerable, and in need of protection.
The end of the commercial is particularly hard-hitting: the two youngsters stand, somber and unflinching, staring at the camera. They are waiting for an answer. For a smoker watching the commercial, it could be like looking in a mirror.
As a former Quit Coach®, Allegra remembers the importance of viewing each caller as an individual who brings their past and their personality to the behavior change process. And, she remembers the importance of treating each caller with care. These are elements she tries to share with Quit Coaches in her training classes. Read more of Allegra Wiborg's blog posts.
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*Image courtesy of YouTube. Watch the video, Thai Health Promotion Foundation - Smoking Kid