World’s best ads ever #79: ‘Smoking Kids’ commercial proves a breath of fresh air
We asked our readers to vote for their favorite commercials of all time. Top creatives from the World Creative Rankings and The Drum’s Judges’ Club then ranked the ads. Now, we bring you the definitive 100 best TV and video ads of all time.
Often described as the world’s cleverest anti-smoking ad, Ogilvy’s work for the Thai Health Promotion Foundation has been one of the most successful health board ads in recent memory.
Since the early 1990s, the Thai government has taken tough measures and legislated against smoking, banning it in public areas, restricting advertising and printing images of its negative effects on cigarette packaging. Along with strict laws and regulations, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (THPF) invested heavily to promote its quit helpline, with more than 10 anti-smoking commercials through a variety of creative executions. The helpline was featured prominently in all anti-smoking advertising materials.
Yet it seemed smokers were immune to the fear-based campaigns. They were already well aware of the dangers of their habit and either ignored the warnings or found the ads patronizing, never giving their key message much thought.
‘Smoking Kids’ was a breath of fresh air when it came to encouraging smokers to put down the packet. Instead of bombarding citizens with anti-smoking sentiments, the ad forces smokers to reflect on their own actions when children approach them asking for a light.
Every adult in the spot is visibly shocked, reeling off reasons why smoking is so bad and refusing to permit the children to light up. “So why are you smoking?” ask the children, before handing over a folded note and walking away. The closing lines read “You worry about me but why not about yourself?” above a quit smoking hotline number.
According to Ogilvy Asia, the campaign was able to create measurable behavior change. The number of completed calls to the stop smoking hotline went from an average of 7,057 a month to 11,461, an increase of 62%. This marked a new high and outperformed every THPF anti-smoking ad of the past 20 years.
The video also became a viral sensation, gaining more than a million views within the first three days and more than 5m within 10 days. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, inspiring people around the world – not just in Thailand – to quit smoking.