Cool vs. Scary as a Motivator.


The New York StateSmokers Quitline (1-866-NY-QUITS) is a toll-free number to get help with smoking cessation. A while back while planning for the North Shore-LIJ Health System, I was asked to generate activity among Africa Americans. The program offered free nicotine patches.


If you’ve seen any Quitline ads recently, you’ll know they are quite powerful. A older gent talking through his voice box, a person with an amputated gangrenous foot. Lots of scary and lots of nasty. Our approach was different. We decided to celebrate smoker abstinence. Go positive. Use the advertising to suggest that it is the “powerful” who can face demon and say no.


To celebrate the power to quit I suggested making the nicotine patch a fashion symbol. (Remember how the birth control patch became a fashion symbol for a while?) We cast a young, cut, shirtless lad with cool tats proudly displaying his nicotine patch. Run on bus shelters and other OOH, the images were as powerful as the empowering message we conveyed.  Power and cool are way stronger motivators than preachy scare tactics.