Saturday, February 03, 2007

Makes me want to break out the Marlboros

I was at the treadmill at the gym (which as you all know is my only source of news) when I saw this commercial in mute:
All over NYC, there are overflowing garbage cans on the street. Body parts, hands, feet, are sticking out of them. Real people in the street are horrified. At first I thought it might be a campaign to stop some newfangled atrocity or other in Africa, but then the tagline comes in, and it turns out to be part of the Truth anti-smoking campaign, which I believe is created by Crispin Porter Bogusky. Basically, the tagline said something like, "there are more people who die of smoking every month, than garbage cans in NYC".
Really. What the fuck? What does one thing have to do with the other? Why are dead people being compared to garbage cans? How freaking puerile and immature can we possibly get?
I've never liked this holier than thou campaign. It's "guerilla tactics" have always felt smugly superior to me. I don't care for the faux sitcom ads where they use the real words of tobacco executives with an added laugh track. I admit the idea is very smart, but anybody who has ever been in a brainstorming session in the bowels of the American corporate world knows that marketers actually speak the tongue of Satan, whether they are selling fizzy beverages or cigarettes.
I don't care if the campaign has had great success in making people quit. I resent the tone. With this latest ad, I think they've gone too far in the really stupid, really bad taste department.
1. The comparison is spurious and sophistic. Why relate tobacco casualties to garbage cans? What is the relation between one and the other? If you told me that more people die of tobacco than kids get born, or stuff like that, I'd swallow it. But this is just exploitative, almost pornographic and utterly lazy. I fail to see how the use of exploitation benefits this kind of public service.
2. We don't have to be treated like morons. At this point everybody knows that smoking kills. I was so angry that I really felt like sticking it to them and puffing on a cig. Maybe the campaign is directed to some idiot 16 year old who may buy this solemnly selfrighteous crap, that seems to have come from the mind of a 16 year old. Again, the fact it may be effective, which I wonder if we have any way of knowing, doesn't mean it's good.

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