Anti-Smoking Truth Campaigns

About 1 out of every 5 deaths in the US can be attributed to tobacco products. American Legacy Foundation is an organisation set up to ensure that young people don’t become part of those statistics. Two advertising agencies, Arnold Worldwide and Crispin Porter + Bogusky, teamed up to develop the television advertising campaign behind ALF’s Truth movement, using actual findings from big tobacco company documents.

Man with megaphone stands in front of body bags in Truth TV Ad

“Bodybag” is set outside a major tobaaco company. An articulated truck pulls up. People dressed in black tumble out of a van with “Truth” on its side. They run to the back of the truck and pull out body bags. Police sirens wail as executives look through their office windows. A protester speaks through a megaphone. “Excuse me. We’ve got a question. Do you know how many people tobacco kills every day? Would you say 20, 30, 100? You know what? We’re going to leave this here for you so you can see what 1200 people actually look like. Keep piling them up guys. Another protester holds a sign saying “Every day 1200 people die from tobacco. truth.” An aerial view shows the body bags lined up outside the building. Text on the screen shows the web address, and the phrase, “To Serve You Better”. Click on the image below to play the video.

“Body Bag” was developed at Arnold Worldwide, Boston, by creative director Pete Favat, copywriter Ari Merkin, agency producer Keith Dezen, account supervisor Lisa Unsworth working with Truth marketing director Beverly Kastens. Filming was shot by director Christian Hoagland via Redtree Productions with director of photography Marc Bloomgarden and producer R.J. Casey.

Virginia Slims Power of My Voice ad

“The Voice” is set outside a major tobacco company protesters run around setting up two podiums and microphones. Bystanders watch, unsure of what is happening. On one podium is posted a placard with the letter “Q”. On the other is the letter “A”. A large advertising poster is unravelled, featuring Virginia Slims, with the line, “Find Your Voice”. At the Q stand a woman addresses the street. “Tobacco companies have been targetting women for the past seventy years, asking us to find our own voice. Today my friend Grace has a question for you guys.” Grace comes to the microphone and speaks through her artificial larynx, “Is this the voice you expected me to find?” The camera moves to the A stand. Noone is there to answer the protesters. Silence. The text comes up, “Ask Questions. Seek Truth”. The USA company behind the brand, Virginia Slims, is Philip Morris.

The Voice ad was developed at Arnold Worldwide, Boston, and Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, by creative directors Ron Lawner, Pete Favat, Alex Bogusky, John Kearse, Tom Adams, copywriter Jackie Hathiramani, art director Tricia Ting, agency producer Carron Pedonti. Filming was shot by director Christian Hoagland via Red Tree Productions, Boston, with producer Jeff Trenner. Editor was Tom Scherma. The Truth ad won a Silver Lion at Cannes 2005.


Orange ribbons connect photographs in Truth TV AdA group of anti-smoking activists take photographs of people on the street, posing with orange circles. “Did you know that 1200 people a day die from tobacco related illnesses”. “My grandfather died April last year.” “Can we take your picture for a survey?” “Do you know anyone who’s been affected by a tobacco related illness?” “Yeah my uncle and my godmother. They smoke a lot.” “My name is Lucy Abbott. I’m waiting for a lung transplant. If you didn’t know someone before, you do now.” Connect truth.

The Creative team from Arnold Worldwide and Crispin Porter + Bogusky included Creative Directors: Alex Bogusky, Pete Favat, John Kearse, Tom Adams, Ron Lawner Copywriters: John Kearse, Marc Einhorn, Jackie Hathiramani, and Art Directors Phil Covitz, Brandon Sides, Tricia Ting, and Meghan Siegal. The films were directed by Christian Hoagland and produced by Carron Pedonti from Redtree Productions, with photography directed by Hans Gissinger. The ads were edited by Tom Scherma from Cosmo Street.

23 Replies to “Anti-Smoking Truth Campaigns”

  1. I just wanted to thank you for your commercials. I gave up smoking this new years, because your commercials scare the hell out of me. I don’t want to be another statistic.

  2. Thx, I was a smoker for 18 years, probably tried quitting 20 times – sometimes up to 3 months smoke free. Then my girlfriend’s mother told me about a book called “Stop smoking the easy way” by Alan Carr, read it, been off the gunk now for a month today. Scare tactics don’t work but it serves a purpose in the sense of reminding people that it’s unhealthy. That alone wont get people to quit though.

    Great site though

    1. I’m sure there are a lot of life choices I could judge you for as well.
      Go ahead and throw the first stone.

  3. i recently quit smoking almost three weeks ago. these websites didnt help me to quit but they gave me something to think about.

  4. Dear Truth,
    Your anti smoking campaign is unamerican. Everyone knows smoking is bad for you and will eventually kill you over time. But to attack a legal product goes against capitolism. Although smoking is a dirty and distgusting habit, it is a personal choice that millions of americans make everyday. By attacking a free commercial product because you do not agree with it, is a slippery slope. Speeding kills as many americans every year as smoking, why would you not attack auto manufacturers? Cholesteral kills millions every year, why would you not attack the food industry? My point is smoking is not a good thing, but it is a personal choice people make. To attack those who produce it and those who use it is an attack on an individual’s freedom of choice. So you may think that you’re trying to save lives, but in reality you are trying to strip americans of their freedoms.

    1. Thank you for telling the TRUTH! The newest commercials are absolutely ludicrous! The shards of glass popcicles and the 3 year old being abandoned are aimed at adults who are free to make their own choices! Meanwhile my six year old sits here in tears not understanding that these things really don’t happen it is a sickening anti-smoking commercial! Cigarette companies aren’t allowed to make commercials why are they?

  5. Hello. I have a 30 second ad, I’d like to submit. I haven’t seen one like it and it shows the benefits to quitting in a different light. The Ad will be ready in the second week of Sept. How do I go about submitting this ad to you?

  6. Please help, I am looking for the TV ads featuring the talking, smoking lab rats. I am sure they were put out by Truth. Maybe possibly send a link?

  7. I am smoking right now, I’ve been smoking for 51 years and I love it. You people need to get a life and stop trying to control other people with your stupid advertisements.
    It is none of your business. In this country you are suppose to have freedom of choice and smoking is what I choose.I would rather die smoking then to listen to your crap and your fear tactics. You are doing just what the current administration is doing. You are trying to create fear in people. Well I’m not afraid. When it is my turn to go, I will celebrate getting out of this f**k up world!!! So go feed your bullshit to someone else.

  8. I agree with Wynn, all your ads do is piss me off or make me laugh, anti-smokers are preachy little bastards, also everything causes cancer so you just have to live your life to the fullest because you’ll die soon enough cigarettes or not.

  9. I like how your ads get people to think a little bit about how smoking can affect them in terms of lung cancer and death, but I do agree with the other few who commented that your ads don’t really encourage people to stop smoking because there are tons of other serious issues in the world. I mean, if smoking were really such a terrible thing, why then to European countries have smoking lounges for students in middle and high school? That fact alone doesn’t encourage people to smoke more, like your ads don’t encourage people to stop smoking. I will give you props for scaring a couple of my friends to stop smoking though, my dorm doesn’t smell so bad anymore!

  10. I love how you don’t keep up on facts, and i love how you use fear tactics, but for every commercial you run, i’m smoking 2 cigs

  11. I know that you think that having a commercial that shows body parts in all over the place was to have an affect on someone to stop smokeing but I think you reall went to far. I am not a smoker but I want to say you truly scared the sh– out of the children. I just saw the commercial of the women with no fingers and I am so annoyed that I wonder when you will do this to the DWI. Do you really think that a smoker does not know the danger they are in. Smoking is leagel in the United States. and every were else you are praying on the smokers go to the goverment and take you photos to them if you really want to make an inpact. This is the United States of America the land of the free ok so I get the fact that you want people to stop smoking but to scare a child that has a grandparent that smokes and has for 50 years is not the best way to do this I am sick of the media and the ads that you place on my tv for my child to see.
    Its time to think of the effect it has on our kids before you put this on TV. This is the same group that wanted to ban furs and wore leather shoes.
    I will not want the channels that place this kind of adds.

  12. I think most of you are missing the point. The adds main function is not as a fear tactic. It’s main purpose is that of a motivational appeal based on shame directed towards big tobacco, not the smoker. And whether you smoke or not the fact remains that if you are under 18 it is illegal and really that is where the truth campaign is invested, in the prevention of youth smoking.

  13. I like the message not to smoke but amping the volume on your commercials makes them annoying and abrasive. Your point is as valid said as it is to be screamed. Its a tacky advertising strategy.
    Thank you.
    Keep up with the positive message

  14. I saw the commerical with the cowboy singing a song, then they show the hole in his throat. Seeing that and the birth of my daughter I have been smoke free for a little over 5 years now. Now I will be alive longer for my little girl. Being a daddy of a little girl is the best thing in the world. Thank you to the truth commericals.

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