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Anti-Tobacco Advertising Evaluation

Advertisements are indeed an important aspect of our life, no matter how personally we evaluate the promoted product. One could say that heshe does not believe commercials, but the statistics do not lie when they say that the sales of a particular product rose after the launch of a new and “creative” advertisement campaign. The content of some commercials might seem so obvious and simple that a person could think, who they are trying to convince. However, despite the commercials’ main obvious message which is, “Our product is the best, buy it”, there are hidden texts between the lines. The advertisement discussed in this paper might not be difficult to figure out; nevertheless it has an important message in itself, as well as sending a message regarding other advertisements, tobacco advertisements to be specific. This paper analyzes the award winning anti-tobacco commercial from the Florida Department of Health’s anti-smoking campaign, “Just Stay Focused on the positive”. The thesis taken in consideration from the advertisement is, “Do not believe tobacco commercials, they all lie.”

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It could be understood from the main slogan of the commercial what t tobacco ads are selling. The rapid spread of smoking in the twentieth century happened, first of all because of exclusively successful advertisement. Today the tobacco commercials are just image. It has less information, and more purely visual attraction. Advertisements are the responsible for making tobacco products consumer products. Without the advertisement gloss, the cigarette smoke causes tickling feeling in the throat, cough and cancer. The consumer is not smoking cigarettes, rather than that heshe is smoking friendship, love, sexuality and elite company. It is just as close as primitive men eating their enemies’ hearts, and believing that by doing it they become braver.

During the disputes about the reasonability of tobacco advertisements, the industry often assures that the ads serve merely to attract the smokers to change the brand of the cigarettes. In a research conducted in 1996 and published in the journal of preventive medicine it was found out that percent of smokers who change their brand is between seven to nine percent. The annual advertisement expenditures of the tobacco industry total fifteen times more than the profit from those nine percent. Tobacco companies lose customers everyday, where thousands of people quit smoking, and thousands of people die every day from illnesses caused by addiction. Thus, the industry would be unprofitable if it did not attract new consumers.

Why the commercial ads lie? Do people really think that by smoking they will be perceived as the heroes of the tobacco commercials? People start regularly smoke when it is important for them to correspond to a certain image. Advertisement boards and media materials deliver a powerful image. It is supported by cultural and sport events sponsored by tobacco companies. For beginner smokers, the imaginary and psychological effects of smoking, being “cool”, obtaining sexuality and independence are much stronger than the unpleasant feelings from the first inhaling from a cigarette. While for old-time smokers, the symbolism of the brand comes to the second place, leaving an addiction which is hard to get rid of.

It is not always concerned with direct TV commercials when discussing tobacco marketing. It is recommended for those who are trying to quit smoking to avoid watching films and shows. In 1927, when the first sound films occurred, smokers on screen appeared as well. It was a sort of dilemma for the directors on how to busy the actors while they were talking on the screen. The directors chose to put cigarettes in screen idols’ hands. Whole scenes could be recalled when a man light up a cigarette for himself and for other two ladies, how the lighter was beautifully presented to a girl and how showy and boldly the heroes were smoking. For the film’s short run time, viewers could watch how more than twenty cigarettes were smoked, i.e. a cigarette every 4-5 minutes. From such dose of nicotine even an old-time smoker can be poisoned. In that sense, such a disproportionate image can be seen in portraying the consumption of alcohol products. Films show drinks and smoking 10-20 times more frequently than it could happen in real life. That could be part of the positive the commercials were talking about.

Placing advertising in printing mass media, the tobacco company often kills two birds with one stone, where the second bird is receiving the influence on the content of articles. According to the content-analysis of the American media in 1992, the female magazines which were not placing advertising of cigarettes, wrote about influence of smoking on health 2-3 times more often, than the similar editions using cigarette advertising. In newspapers supported by tobacco companies, smoking is presented as a pleasant habit, instead of heavy dependence; as an individual free choice instead of behaviour caused by the pro-tobacco information environment, but questions of contents and carcinogenicity of the tobacco smoke are not mentioned.

The usage of teens in the anti-tobacco advertisement is not a coincidence. They are the main target of tobacco advertisement. They are the ones who are deceived by the images presented in ads. What if tobacco ads were telling the truth? What if they were showing patients on their final stage of lung cancer? That is not the case here indeed, where young people do not tend to forecast events 10-20 years ahead. Thus, why worry about something that might happen in the future while life can be enjoyed right now by belonging to the caste of the beautiful and successful. From the internal documentations of tobacco companies, the following excerpts can show the approach taken in targeting the younger generation.

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The motivation of youth in starting smoking: “Core motivations for smoking centre around two distinct areas: rebelliousness; ‘I do what I want, I make my own choices, no one tells me what to do’ and a way to fit in; ‘it’s cool/grown up to smoke, it’s a statement of my class/status/sense of quality”

The key 15-19 age group: “Rebel with a cause: clearly there is an opportunity to appeal to the defiant nature of young smokers today who gather together in “smoking pits” at schools or smoking sections at bars.” (“Cigarette Marketing in Canada: Tobacco Industry Documents” 2).

Summarizing the aforementioned, it can be seen that there is a need for anti-tobacco advertisements which will reveal the truth to the young population about the tobacco industry. And yes, they are not telling the truth in their advertisements. There is nothing positive in smoking. Tobacco advertising and sponsorship are extremely developed and highly paid field of activity. It will be very difficult for ad makers to refuse tobacco super profits. Therefore, ads such as the mentioned in this paper are a crucial step in warning, if not against cigarettes, at least against believing everything the advertisements say.

Works Cited

Bridge, Patrick D. “Relationship between Tobacco Advertising and Youth Smoking: Assessing the Effectiveness of A…” All Business. 4 Apr. 2009. Web.

“Cigarette Marketing in Canada: Tobacco Industry Documents”. 2002. Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. 2009. Web.

Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control. “Tobacco Advertising & Promotion”. 2005. European Network for Smoking Prevention. 2009. Web.

“Tobacco Company Marketing to Kids”. 2008. Tobacco Free Kids. 2009. Web.

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“Tobacco Product Advertising and Promotion Fact Sheet”. 2007. American Lung Association. 2009. Web.

Willemsen, Marc C., and Boudewijn de Blij. “Tobacco Advertising”. 2009. Tobacco Control Fact Sheets. Web.

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