This Intense Gambling PSA Packs Unexpected Imagery

It's an addiction like any other

Packs of playing cards provide powerful visual cues in a noirish PSA from Preston Spire and the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling.

Such decks—stacked against folks addicted to wagering and games of chance—stand in for cigarette packs, cans of beer and cocaine paraphernalia. They do so to illustrate that gambling is a habit that's just as hard to kick as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.

MNAPG | Just as Real

It's a simple, direct, no-frills approach with a memorable central metaphor. 

For some, the card packs may seem hokey. Fair enough, but they do add a novel element that artfully drives home the central point. And at least the approach offers something different in an overly familiar sector.

The team hopes the spot will "resonate emotionally and be remembered by the people who need help," says agency creative director Brett Essman.

"A gambling addiction has the misconception that it's not a real addiction—[some believe] it's a lack of willpower or a moral weakness," he tells Muse. "In this PSA, we showed that it's just as real as other addictions—and there's help."

The smoking scene was difficult to shoot, Essman recalls, "because the pack is really awkward to hold as a cigarette. In video village, we were all trying to figure out how to hold the pack and make it look like we were smoking it."

In the finished film, actor Roberto Jay puffs away admirably. His obsessive performance proves a highlight. It's all face acting, which is tough, but he aces the part of a guy on the edge, sapped by a sucker bet. 


CEO: Jennifer Spire
CCO: Chris Preston
CD/AD: Brett Essman
Sr. CW: Aylâ Larsen
Sr. Designer: Fernando Polomino
Sr. Account Supervisor: Aaron Smith
Sr. Strategist: Ron Hall
EP: Lisa Thotland

Production Company: Plural Films
Director: Rachel Knoll
DP: Steve Holm
Music: Marmoset
SFX/Mix: Echo Boys
Color: Oscar Oboza
Edit: Good Ductch / Irei Edit

Executive Director at Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling: Susan Tucker

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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