You can tell the people who have created some the latest Truth! ads grew up watching John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” which I remember as one of the scariest movies of all time.
The Truth! anti-smoking campaign got a lot of attention at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards for its puking unicorn ad. I actually found this ad pretty funny. This ad does a very witty take on various Internet memes to point out that “social smoking” and hookah smoking is a trap. You don’t just smoke a few cigarettes and then quit. It’s all still got nicotine and it’s all incredibly addictive. Today, you’re smoking a few cigs, tomorrow you’re smoking a pack a day. 30 years from now, you’ve failed to quit and now you have COPD or cancer.
Here is the “It’s a Trap!” ad:
However, over the past few months, I’ve seen an ever better ad campaign, that I know came from “The Thing” remake from about 1981. In these commercials, a really disgusting monster/giant spider attacks a teen or science teacher while someone explains how toxic and full of poisons it is.
As a bunch of teens scream and run away from it, the monster retreats into a pack of cigarettes. The point is, “if you really knew how scary cigarettes were, would you smoke them.”
Those commercials always reminded me of the damned head-crap scene from The Thing that completely freaked me out when I was about 17. This movie got panned reviews when it came out, but it’s now considered a cult horror classic with some of the most gruesome special effects imaginable for the day:
I love these commercials because kids love to be scared to this day and age. There aren’t as many horror movies geared to kids today as there were when I was a kid but it’s a great way to get the message through to kids that they can relate to — cigarette are scary. In a very gross and disgusting way. If you’ve ever watched someone die from COPD or cancer, it is very, very scary to see what it does to a person.
Wow, I saw an anti-smoking commercial this week that literally just made me cringe.
It’s from a campaign called “the Real Cost of Smoking.” In this ad, a guy goes to the counter to buy a pack of menthols and the clerk looks at his money and says, “that’s not enough.”
What does the guy do? He pulled out a pair of pliers and literally yanks out one of his teeth and drops it on the counter. “Oh, man …. I did not actually just see that,” was my reaction. I’ve seen it a few times since and every time, I look away … and I don’t even smoke. I can’t imagine how cringe-worthy the ad is for smokers to watch, which I suppose is the actual point.
The commercial goes on to say that smoking menthols causes gum damage.
There’s another “The Real Cost of Smoking” ad I saw a few weeks ago that’s almost as gross. A young woman goes to the counter in this one, the clerk likewise says, “that’s not enough,” and she peels the skin off her cheek and drops it on the counter. The point being that smoking causes skin damage.
These ads are actually from the Food and Drug Administration. These are the kind of ads I would expect from Truth.org but not the federal government. These are the first anti-smoking ads from the FDA, and they’re obviously taking a cue from Truth.org to create intense anti-smoking ads.
Anyway, here is the tooth-pulling ad. Watch it. If you dare.
An outstanding anti-smoking ad from Thailand. Two little kids walk up to a bunch of smokers holding cigarettes asking for a light. In every case, the adults refuse to give the kids a light and instead give them a lecture about how cigarettes are poisonous and cause emphysema, etc.
The commercial ends with the children handing adults a note, saying, “you worry about me, but not about yourself.”
And cue the adults giving the kids puzzled looks. Powerful stuff. This commercial has been playing worldwide for a few weeks: