Stoptober Campaign - Fails To Light | ...Gasp!

Stoptober Campaign

Fails To Light

Tonight marks the launch of Public Health England’s £3.2 million Stoptober campaign. They’ve enlisted the support of comedians Paddy McGuinness, Al Murray, Andi Osho and Simon Brodkin (Lee Nelson to you and me).

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oh and by the way, you should stop smoking, weren’t these chaps funny?

Before I judge it, watch it above.

Now, I’m a fan of comedy and smoking - so am sure their target market - and I can understand identifying comedy as a vehicle to communicate with a British audience, but this doesn’t work. It’s confused. A few talented/untalented (delete as appropriate) comedians tell a few jokes, “oh and by the way, you should stop smoking, weren’t these chaps funny?”

Excuse the upcoming pun (which I’m actually quite proud of) but it’s yet another comedy crowbarred with advertising attempt to LOL you (told you it was good!) into responding the desired way. In this case the undeniably beneficial action of quitting smoking.

If horrifying images on cigarette packets is Bad Cop this is Good Cop. The kind of Cop that would drive a family saloon safely within the speed limit. And as any fan of 80s cop films will testify, one doesn’t work without the other. In fact, if you have to go with one, you’d choose Bad Cop. HR might question his techniques but he’ll get the result. Good Cop will end up cuffed to the chair whilst the suspect escapes through the vents. And I’m metaphorically already on my way to Mexico.

Now what the Beverly Hills Cop has this got to do with anything you’re asking, fairly. Well, as the wonderful Dave Trott (man-crush alert) reveals, there are three key elements to successful advertising. Impact, Communication and Persuasion. And this falls at the first hurdle. However, it's a good cause so I trotted through the other hurdles allowing them to awkwardly slap my waist in turn. And as I watched, I learned what I already knew:

1. I like Al Murray, and
2. You’re more likely to stop smoking if you stop smoking.

And that took an astonishing 3 minutes to convey. People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter so whilst I bit at the comedian-carrot which bought them time, it wasn’t utilised, and crucially I feel less incentivised to quit smoking than a 1-second glance at this picture.

No impact, some average comedic material, and no additional persuasion. Results of a significant spend of £3.2 million. And they wonder why 90% of advertising is ignored. It’s because 90% of it is shit.

Anyway, I’m slating the ad, not the cause. So, whilst we’re talking depressing statistics, about 50% of all regular smokers will be killed by their addiction. That’s the toss of a coin. Fancy your chances? Sign up today here: and live longer.

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