Went to the IPA last night to hear a talk about the anti-smoking case study that’s been short-listed for the 2010 IPA Effectiveness Awards. It was a panelist of the contributors and they started with a fact which determined the way they approached the whole campaign – that 76% of smokers need more than one reason to stop smoking. So, given that advertising theory states that you should only have one message at a time, how can you give mulitple messages at the same time and hope that they’ll stick?
The answer was to involve various parties, all with an interest in people stopping smoking and all capable of coming at the problem from a different angle yet able to advertise in and around the same time. Those parties were the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the NHS and the Cancer Research UK. Each came at the problem from their distinct point of view and with a different tone of voice. In combination, they created an ‘additive and complementary effect’.
There were another couple of points that were interesting too. Anti-smoking legislation (e.g. no smoking in public places) and taxation (now over £6 a pack) obviously work, but its advertising that provides the emotional prompts that work with these things.
Smoking is irrational, because rationally, you know it’ll kill you. So, you shouldn’t use rational advertising – you need stories told with emotion as they will ‘work harder and last longer’.
So, what does this mean from a sustainability point of view? It seems that the anti-smoking lobby have moved from one message to change one behaviour to mulitple-messages to change one behaviour. However, when it comes to sustainability, there are multiple behaviours to change. What to do? One suggestion the panel had was to wrap different behaviours into one campaign – apparently the ‘Change4Life’ campaign contains 8 messages. However, I’m not sure that this is the best way – with ‘Change4Life’, the messages seem to get lost as they are not individually distinctive enough in the same way that the anti-smoking messages were that were covered here. On this, I can see the benefit of using advertising as it can use emotion to reverse irrational behaviour, but who would pay for those multiple messages, productions and airtime? The government is cutting spending, and there don’t seem to be as many charities that are focussed on this issue as they’re are with anti-smokng to pick up the tab (WWF? Oxfam? Carbon Trust? Maybe)
Anyway, it was an interesting talk and here’s the link to the 20 min video they made to talk about the case study.
And here are some of the ads:
British Heart Foundation ‘Fatty Cigarettes’:
NHS testimonal (there’s loads of these):