Why the Truth Anti-Smoking Campaign Worked

Gritty and unprofessional, the commercial looks like it was made on a black and white home video recorder. The camera shows a city street “outside a major tobacco company,” where trucks with the word “truth” written on the side are rolling up to a building. Young people with the urgency of graffiti artists and the organization of a swat team swiftly open up the trucks and start piling body bags on the side of the street. A man in a suit curiously looks out of windows from above as a young man asks through a megaphone how many people die from tobacco every day. The pile of body bags gets bigger and bigger. The others below hold up signs that say “Every day 1200 die from tobacco.”

This is the first Truth Campaign anti-smoking campaign ad from 1998, and it is considered the first campaign that was highly effective in convincing teens to not start smoking. But why did it work? There are many things that Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the Miami agency that created the ad, cleverly did to make this ad effective.

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