Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai – Thai anti-smoking ad

Labelled ‘’The best anti-smoking ad ever”, viewers can easily see why when watching this advert. The powerful ad created by Ogilvy & Mather for the Thai Health Promotion Foundation really hits home with its emotive message. The video sees various young adults smoking outside office blocks and shops, when approached by two very young children asking for ‘’a light’’, the adults, all unaware that they are being filmed, all react in the same horrified way, shocked that a child could be smoking and each one proceeds to tell the children why they shouldn’t ‘’you’ll die faster ’’ , “Smoking is bad, you have to stop” without stopping to realise that they are doing the exact same thing. Once they have finished talking the children hand the adults a piece of paper with the words ‘’If you care about me, why not yourselves’’ and an anti-smoking helpline number. Each adult appears to be shocked by the emotive force of this message, realising that the children were not actually smokers but were in fact aiming to promote anti-smoking awareness, each adult seems touched.  The real people and emotions used in this campaign are what make it so much more powerful, there are no models or actors involved, these are regular everyday people who do smoke and are all genuinely touched by the message behind this campaign.

The lack of professional lighting, camera work and models or actors makes this advert so much more powerful because it is real, the camera filming people smoking outside office blocks creates images that the public are used to seeing on a regular basis, when approached by children asking for ‘’a light’’ the smokers all react in the same horrified way, that a child could possibly be doing something so dangerous and harmful to themselves seems impossible to believe, but it’s this that sends the powerful message to the viewers – Why, if these adults know how dangerous this habit is and are willing to warn children of their health would they themselves smoke?

This advert uses emotive techniques to get the viewers’ attention.  While I usually feel emotive advertisements don’t have a strong effect as there are so many of them society has almost become immune to seeing them, this advertisement does it in a different way. Emotive techniques in advertisements are often to make the viewer feel sorry for a victim, making the viewer mirror the victim’s feelings aiming to encourage them to help a cause. This advertisement however uses positive emotive techniques. Anti-smoking campaigns often show the effect smokers have on other people, their children, people on the street, very rarely themselves. This advert however shows children encouraging adults to look after themselves. When the children walk away, the smokers are left touched by the gesture which encourages the viewers to either think about themselves if they smoke or to encourage a loved one to stop smoking if they themselves do not.

The use of real people in the streets makes it more believable, it grabs the viewer’s attention more than a child model breathing in photo-shopped smoke. There are no actors, lighting, camera equipment or Photoshop techniques in this campaign which cause the viewer’s to relate more, they can see themselves or people they know in this ad as it is so realistic, prompting the viewers to think about ways to help themselves or people they know.


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