Why This Anti-Smoking Campaign Is Actually Thanking Smokers

Unexpected tactics from Denmark

In an unexpected and moving departure from typical anti-smoking tactics, this campaign from Denmark offers a heartfelt thank you to smokers.

To be clear, they're not being thanked for smoking per se, but for the way they go about it, as you'll see in the 90-second film below.

Thanks

The work seeks to leverage the insight that Danish adults who smoke also fervently hope youngsters won't acquire the habit. Though they can't quit cigarettes, these folks take care not to light up around children, confining their indulgence to lonely moments when no one's watching. 

"The 'Smoke-Free Future' initiative has existed for four years, and the sole purpose is to prevent us as a society from passing on tobacco to the coming generations," explains Morten Fabricius, partner and account director at creative agency &Co, which developed the campaign for the Danish Cancer Society and nonprofit TrygFonden. "But every time we communicate, it enrages smokers. They feel persecuted. Every time institutions or organizations communicate about cigarettes, it's negative, and smokers feel personally attacked. It's been like that for decades." 

According to government statistics, smoking among adult Danes rose by 2 percent from 2016 to 2018, and 40 Danish kids under 18 start using cigarettes every day. Such downbeat data points convinced the creative team that a fresh strategy was required, especially since 14,000 Danes die each year from tobacco-related illness. 

Danish lawmakers and opinion leaders comprise the main campaign target, and the agency hopes to convince them "that everybody wants this [smoke-free future], even those who smoke," says &Co media strategist Nynne Sille Hansen. "Tighter legislation is a hot topic in the Danish political debate right now, but the politicians are still hesitant and afraid of the smokers. We wanted to show that they are nice people too," who don't want youngsters to suffer through nicotine addiction, as they have. 

In the film, smokers receive grudging respect for their furtive puffs far from prying eyes, and "cover-up" bids such as manic tooth-brushing in public washrooms and incessant consumption of minty gum. Such behavior, while not exactly exemplary, does show genuine self-awareness and constitutes a sacrifice, of sorts, for the benefit of others. 

Surely, that merits a "thank you" every now and then.

The concept hit especially close to home at &Co itself, as one of its founding partners inspired the scene in the film where Dad "takes out the trash" seven times a day. In fact, that exec made a memorable cameo as the agency strove to sell the campaign. 

"One of the conference rooms at &Co looks out on a small outdoor balcony," Køhler says. "At the climax of our most crucial presentation of this concept, a founding father of the agency, and not a part of the meeting, snuck out on the balcony and lit a cigarette. He just stood there, smoking, once in a while looking curiously through the window while we presented. Apparently, he didn't see the [Cancer Society] logo. Quite an awkward moment—but luckily the client has a sense of humor."

Copenhagen-based &Co has collaborated with the Danish Cancer Society and TrygFonden on several efforts of note. These include last year's Gold Clio-winning "Help a Dane" effort that warned adult travelers about the dangers of skin cancer, and this summer's similarly themed "Help a Small Dane" push, which focused on kids. 

CREDITS

Agency: &Co.
Creative Director: Robert Cerkez
Art Director: Rune Petersen, Jon Goldtche
Copywriter: Johan Køhler, Kristel Krøier
Account Director: Morten Fabricius
Account Manager: Anders Antvorskov, Mette Riis Kruse
Planner: Lone Tvedergaard Bach
Social Media Planner: Nynne Sille Hansen
Graphic Designer: Anders Martin Jensen

Main production company: Bacon CPH
Executive Producer: Mette Jermiin
Producer: Ditte Odgaard Glass
Director: Martin Werner
In-house production company: Andy
Agency Producer: Filippa Borg von Bülow
DOP: Rasmus Videbæk
Focus Puller: Daniel Parmo
Gaffer: Morten Kildegaard
Best Boy: Casper Bülow
Grip: Christian Brøndum
Production manager: Mads Jokum
Production designer: Wonderland productions, Christian Rathmann
Propsmaster: Klara Sofia Bengtsson
Stylist: Pernille Holm
Make-up: Lis Kasper
Extra coordinator: Anya Heen
Production Coordinator: Laura Valentiner-Bohse
Sound Recordist: Stefan Garfield
Casting: ArtCast, Ditte Kiel
Postproduction: Bacon X
Editor: Nicolaj Monberg
Colorist: Miriam Latif
VFX: Bacon X
Sound design: Kevin Koch
Music title: "Kid in you"
Music composer: Hasan Ozsu

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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