Friday, February 27, 2015

Will a new approach get teens to finally stop smoking?

While tobacco use by adolescents in the US has declined substantially over the past 40 years, nearly one in 10 high school seniors were daily smokers in 2013.  (Johnston, 2014)

For years now most anti-smoking efforts seem to have relied on fear as a motivator, often showing disfigured people in their ads.  (A student recently brought this one to my attention.)  The key message -- if you smoke this will happen to you.

While scare tactics might motivate some (including me) they clearly aren't working for everyone. 

A new commercial/video takes a radically different approach banking on the fact that teens care more about dating now than what might happen when they are old.  (Corr, 2015)

Take a look at the spot and see what you think.   


Will this campaign be successful?  Does it motivate you?  Or did the disfigured woman do it for you?

 Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2014). Monitoring the Future national survey results on adolescent drug use, 1975-2013: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Retrieved February 26, 2015, from

Corr, A. (2015, February 26)  NEW!  Truth's Latest Anti-Smoking Campaign Is A Catchy Music Video Called 'Left Swipe Dat.'  Retrieved February 26, 2015, from


  1. I double the effectiveness of this ad. Even though US prohibits smoking ads over the country, tobacco companies have been promoting smoking in campus for years. Many teens said they had been offered with free tobacco in their 9-10 years old. And yet there’re many toxic drugs offered in campus other than tobacco. Maybe they even grade tobacco as little harm. If the authority wants to reduce teens smoking rate or drug rate, it should first wipe these tobacco and drug out of primary school and high school campus. Given the fact that those teens have already addicted to tobacco couple years, higher dating chance is not strong enough to motivate them to quit smoking.

    Other than that, as many pop stars also smoke or drug, teens perceive smoking as way to show cold. And smoking boys and girls usually grow up together; they may be predisposed to smoking, if their admired ones (love ones) smoke. If in these cases, they don’t care about the left-wipe-dat on social media, as they have their own values and pursuits.

    The disfigured woman ad (convectional approach) at least shocked me; I guess so to the smokers. But that many people don’t quit smoking is not because they don’t engage with the horrible/disfigure ads. May due to strong addiction or don’t believe the negative side of smoking.

    -Mengying Li(Cosette)

  2. In my opinion, I believe that this campaign will not be as effective and work successfully as the disfigured woman ad. Even though it is somehow true that teens nowadays care more about dating now than what might happen to them when they are old (as teens usually don’t think far or long term), I feel that the ‘left swipe hashtag’ ad doesn't motivate me or scare me hard enough to avoid smoking or how bad smoking is to our health, compared to the disfigured woman ad.

  3. Personally, I agree with Ezra on this. Both advertisements instill fear on viewers, fear of the future, or the fear of now. The "Left Swipe Dat" advertisement focuses more on the fear of being undateable, and in turn, rejected on a depiction of the oh-so-popular app, Tinder. The "Record Your Voice" advertisement hopes to strike fear on the future health problems that are associated with smoking. Both can be frightening, but generally speaking, I'm more afraid of not being able to speak properly than being undateable.

    - Andrew Lam

  4. 106,977 views proves to me it did not succeed, althought it thought it used the Teen's language, social media, you tube being the best platforms for videos going viral and creating effectiveness clearly did not do. Also the dating insight did not do, as mentioned above, smoking couples attract one another and it is addictive in college. That's how my brother started smoking. I guess it was a not so bad trial that apparently failed because it is not shocking. The disfigured ad is "shocking" and plays on a more real and scarier insight, health and death. Being a non smoker Gen X, it is still the kind of ad that always stopped me from smoking socially in fear of getting addicted and buying a pack one day. Teens need a stronger more shocking insight, social media could be part of where to communicate it.
    Ninar K

  5. Although the two ads are taking different approaches with the current ad trying to appeal to what supposedly teens care about these days I think the current ad is still a scare tactic and will not be successful. I think if I had to choose which one would be the scariest I would choose the disfigured woman. The dating one will not be as effective because it is easier to find someone else to date that also smokes or doesn't mind someone who smokes that to overcome a disfigure. Unfortunately society places more emphasis on looks, which is why the first ad would be more effective than this new approach.

    Regardless of the ad I just do not believe that scare tactics work in this scenario. Teens have a "this will not happen to me" attitude and at that age this is not something they think would realistically happen. Also just looking at the second ad the first thing that comes to mind if I were a smoker is that I would just not post a picture of me smoking. As opposed to the first ad it would be very difficult to hide a disfigured face.

    Again I do not think that this new approach will be very successful as it is just a different form of scare tactics and teens are just a little more difficult to scare.

  6. I think the ads is pretty fun because it can get the teenagers' attention easily by using the song and lyric " left swipe dat". however, I think the ads is not work well because it is just a cool ads. Teenagers might think the ads is fresh but they continue smoking. Compared to the first ads of disfigured people, I think the first ads will work well because the teenagers who just start to smoke might think about the consequence of smoking. They will afraid of being those disfigured people, so they will try to quit smoking. However, I think the teenagers who addict to smoking will not influenced by both of ads because they just can't get rid of them even thought they have already known smoking is bad for their health.

  7. I think the ad will be extremely effective in reaching the younger target audience (high school students). The fear of being rejected by a girl is very compelling for teen males, and while the video is silly, I believe the message will resonate. I also think the company should continue to use the current campaign which shows adults stuggling with health issues generated from smoking. I find these will resonate with consumers 30-65, as the age gap is much less, and being the age of the characters in each commercial is more foreseeable. I think both ads together creates the best coverage. - Bradley Cockrell

  8. Yes, I believe this campaign will work, or at least raise awareness. With the increased care and consideration millennials are putting on healthy living principles, I think this campaign adds to it.

    Furthermore, with the mass amount of research and negative connotations smoking is getting in and around popular culture, smoking's negative image is top of mind for millennials.

    In sum, smoking is not having the 'cool' factor it once did, therefore, campaigns like this get more positive attention and build more traction.


  9. Using fear appeal in a persuasive health campaign is always a risk. Two reasons why I think it's a risk: At first people used to think that the more fear we would use in messages, the better effect and more response it would have on the target. Janis (1953) goes against this in her article by saying that fear is only effective up till a certain moment. By the time the fear in the message becomes too extreme people will get scared and will not pay attention to the message anymore. In the ad above with the disabled woman I think the fear is too extreme which makes the effect less. The second reason why I think using fear appeal is a campaign is a risk is because of the perceived vulnerability. According to Extended Parallel Process Model (Witte, 1992) people can become worried from an ad but as long as they don't feel vulnerable themselves they won't feel the threat!

    So, what I think is a good aspect of the new campaign is that it's focused on the youth. Since their peers are in the clip, the youth will feel much more vulnerable then when they see an older disabled lady. The vision of the campaign is really up-to-date with the link with Tinder. They really try to focus on the social norms here, where they are trying to tell you that the youth from these days feel like it's really stupid if you smoke. One negative side is that you can't really take it serious. In my opinion they should have made it a little more 'mature'. Very curious about the effects of this campaign!


  10. I think the second ad is more efficient than the first one because the first ad will give the viewers a big impact on smoking. However the target viewers are the teenagers so, the first ad with the old woman who has a hole on her neck will not motivate the teens to quit smoking right away. Even though the viewers will shock at the first time with the first one, they will think the woman's situation is not the case that they are facing right now.
    on the other hand, I think the second ad is more efficient to motivate the teen's to quit smoking by using the dating application.
    I think the target viewers are teens, and as the adolescent teenagers, their main concern will be now to become attractive people to the opposite gender.
    Therefor, I think when the tees saw this ad, they will immediately react to not become smoker after seeing the celebrity rejected a person who smokes through the dating application.
    I think the purpose of these two ads are the same, but I believe the second one with dating application is more efficient to motivate the teenagers than the first ad.

  11. I think this new de-marketing is genius. It will be extremely influential to the younger crowd, which is targeted because most smoking habits begin at the ages of 16-18. These are also the heaviest users of Tinder- the dating app, making it a perfect match. I think the scare tactics work best with older adults who can relate more to the personal experience of the depicted smokers. On the other hand, the younger generation may not be able to connect with the scare tactic commercials because the ages of the ad characters are much older. I think it will surely get the youth to stop and think about the consequences of smoking.