Ontario government gets funny about smoking

The government's multi-platform anti-smoking campaign uses humorous analogies about behaviours like farting to dispel the myth of social smoking.

The Ontario government is encouraging people to butt out with a new campaign that aims to call out social smokers on their behaviour.

With creative by BBDO Canada and Proximity and media by ZenithOptimedia, the initiative targets adults aged 18 to 29, and relies on a multi-platform campaign that drives to the government’s social media platform on Facebook. It features cinema pre-roll in Cineplex theatres, digital ads on sites like MuchMusic.com and MTV.com, and OOH ads in restaurants and bars, as well as across university and college campuses.

The video creative uses humorous analogies, including behaviours like social nibbling and social farting, to illustrate that social smoking is no different from smoking.

“The label ‘social smoker’ gives our target audience a safe place to hide. They don’t consider themselves smokers and therefore traditional anti-smoking messaging is wasted on them. We needed to start a new conversation, one that delegitimizes the label,” says Peter Ignazi, SVP and ECD, BBDO Canada, of the insight that drove the campaign strategy.

He adds that OOH is key to the media plan, because it allows the government to reach smokers while they’re out with their friends and more likely to light up.

He says that it was important to use a light-hearted campaign to get Ontarians to talk about and share the message through social media.

The campaign marks the beginning of a three-year initiative. A new video will be released later this week.

This story has been updated to reflect a correction. Media in this campaign was done by ZenithOptimedia, not OMD as was earlier reported. We regret the error.