What do smokers really want?

We know it’s not pleasant to be a smoker in New Zealand. Ciggy packets are plastered with revolting imagery, smoker areas are often cold and blustery, and at $18.70 for a pack of 20, the addiction quite literally burns a whole in any committed smoker’s pocket.

We have countless major advertising campaigns talking at us about the hazards of lighting up. And amongst the noise comes another campaign, What Smokers Really Want from Smokefree Nurses Aotearoa – this time talking to smokers themselves.

The non-profit advocacy group tapped Auckland-based creative agency Waking Giants to spearhead the campaign, asking them to keep in mind that, within the Kiwi population, smokers have not yet had an overt voice in any smoke-free campaigns. 

Dr Grace Wong, Smokefree director and senior lecturer at AUT’s School of Nursing, says there is a real need to support those who are addicted to smoking and their families.

“No one has asked smokers what they really want when they see nurses. Core nursing principles include listening and caring for individuals, and we know that nurses value hearing from their patients.”

A change of attitude and conversation has now been introduced with the What Smokers Really Want campaign, which is delivering the message through New Zealand media, a website and social media channels.

Branded resource material is also available via Smokefree networks, the internet, primary health organisations, nursing schools, conference presentations and nursing media. 

With its bright and happy blend of colours, the design focus around the campaign intends to bring an aspirational identity to the quit-smoking platform, rather than a focus on death and disease, says Waking Giant director Grant Difford.

The aesthetics of the campaign certainly sets it apart, a much prettier cousin amongst a family of gloomy non-smoking campaigns. 

The website brings together a series of clips directed by Goodlife Films, asking those addicted about their experiences of trying to quit, the support they’d really like, and a desire for less attitude from friends, family, and their nurses, thank you very much.

"The real winner for us is our ability to stand back and get a sense of the message," says Grant. 

"At one point we felt the narrative was starting to become a little ‘culture washed’ rather than the essence of the whole campaign – ‘Understanding Smokers Real Needs’. No labels or colours!"

The campaign runs until end the end of November, and is part of Smokefree New Zealand's goal of the nation being smoke free by 2025.

Anti-smoking campaigns: scaring the bejeezus out of everyone

Seems like this empathetic approach is one in a million of doom-y and gloomy campaigns favoured by ad agencies around the world.

A quick Google search for creative quit-smoking campaigns shows that they're some stylish ads out there, for sure – but focus is very much on the cancer sticks and their affects, rather than the humans sucking on them. Halloween is over, so I've chosen ads devoid of gangrene and damaged organs to illustrate my point.

GITAM BBDO, Tel Aviv, IsraelTBWA, Athens, GreeceEuro RSCG, Sydney, AustraliaIris, London, United KingdomJWT, Atlanta, USA