World No Tobacco Day: Creative deficiencies, holier than thou stance make ads ineffective

Advertising and marketing experts say there lies creative deficiencies in these ads which deter them from hitting the ‘effectiveness’ spot and could well be worked upon

by Misbaah Mansuri
Published - May 31, 2018 9:00 AM Updated: May 31, 2018 9:00 AM

Today is World No Tobacco Day that was first conceptualised by the Member States of the World Health Organisation in 1987 by drawing global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.  It is intended to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe.    

Smokers know how dangerous the habit is. That it does not come cheap should make them quit even faster. But to finally quit... easier said than done, most, if not every smoker, would say. 
So what exactly is needed for that much-needed 'push'? Informative and innovative anti-tobacco ads help yes, but are they doing enough? Here's what some industry experts had to say:

Advertising and marketing experts we spoke with are largely of the opinion that there lies creative deficiencies in these ads which deter them from hitting the ‘effectiveness’ spot and could well be worked upon. 
Agnello Dias, Chairman & Co-Founder, Taproot Dentsu, says, “I think anti- tobacco ads in India fall into two categories. Either they are academic, boring and lacking in imagination or they are the award scams that are cerebral and too high-brow for most people to understand. A real, mass national thought provoking campaign for anti-tobacco has not been done (yet)."

Raghu Bhat, Director, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, voices a similar opinion. “I see health insurance companies sometimes come up with such ads. The thing with these ads is that they are not being judged and unfortunately, I don’t see some thought-provoking communication that makes a smoker think before smoking and makes a real impact, this needs to be worked upon.”

Jagdeep Kapoor of Samsika says, “While I’ve seen a lot of tobacco ads, I wish I saw more pro-health ads. I see ads showing people who smoke but I think the ads talking about people who don’t smoke and how they lead a healthy life with their families is missing. Comparative ads would work well and be a better trigger than the ones we see currently."
An industry source on the condition of anonymity says, "The creative arc in these anti-tobacco/smoking ads is definitely missing.They fail royally and sometimes rather than dissuading people, they drive opposite behaviour. The thumb-rule is smart messaging which these ads need to define and even invest in financially to make a difference." 
Dias also reasons that those who have the reach and the scale to do it lack the imagination or creative understanding and those who have the latter are in it only for personal fame and glory. “I think those in charge of dispersing anti-tobacco messages must give it to a proper advertising agency and have a sizeable media budget with adequate measures of effectiveness so the agency can treat it like a normal hard-working campaign instead of aiming for an AV that will make it to an awards ceremony,” adds Dias.

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