CASSIES Bronze: Alberta Health Services encourages quitting

To inspire smokers to try to quit again, a campaign poked fun at the bad choices we make until we get things right.


Events, Seasonal and Short-Term

Situation Analysis: The 2008 Alberta Tobacco Reduction Strategy identified a goal to reduce the smoking rate for Albertans age 15+ from 21% to 12% by 2012. As of 2011, the actual smoking rate for this demographic in Alberta was still 17.7%. Research has shown that support from doubles an individual’s chances of quitting successfully. The goal for this campaign, as part of a larger strategy to communicate with a variety of niche audiences, was to reduce smoking rates in Alberta among 25- to 40-year-old women by encouraging current smokers in this demographic to make a new attempt at quitting, this time with the support of AlbertaQuits.

Insight & Strategy: One key barrier with women was a lack of confidence in their ability to successfully quit. For many of these women, their past several quit attempts have ended in relapse, which left them with the perception that they were simply not able to quit. However, research revealed that on average it takes eight attempts to successfully quit smoking. Relapse isn’t failure; it is actually a part of the process of quitting. Applying the five-stage transtheoretical model of behaviour change (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance) led to the decision to target women in the contemplation or preparation stages who have made a previous quit attempt. This demographic is more likely to be unmarried than non-smokers, and thus is likely to spend more time in bars and restaurants. The key message for the campaign would be “keep trying to quit by visiting for cessation support as it can double your chances of quitting.”

Execution: Launched in March 2013 and running for four weeks in Calgary and Edmonton, campaign messaging executed in a humorous and uplifting tone consisted of washroom advertising posters and mirror decals in bars and restaurants, radio and online advertising.

Results: Against the objective to increase monthly unique visitors to to 3,000 (versus the month pre-launch of 1,848 unique visitors), 7,061 unique visits were achieved in March 2013 and 7,559 in April, an approximate 400% increase. Monthly site visits on increased from 4,462 visits in February to 12,120 and 12,432 for the months of March and April respectively, while page views nearly doubled to 39,357 and 38,242. Monthly registrations for cessation support on increased from 187 in February to 321 in March and 346 in April. Approximately 65% of registrants were female of whom 51% were within the targeted age of 25 to 45.

Cause & Effect: Site visits to increased significantly as of March 18, the first day of the campaign. Numbers also declined steeply after April 14, the last day of the campaign, while the demographics of program registrants shifted towards the defined target audience. The annual budget for promoting tobacco cessation under this campaign was consistent with spending levels from previous years while the availability of AlbertaQuits services (both online and in-person) remained unchanged from the previous year. The campaign also ran outside of the “New Year’s Resolution” window of December/January, thus the results are not due to a seasonal trend.

Client: Alberta Health Services
Manager: Susan Canning
Program consultant: Christa Bell
Tobacco reduction consultant: Brian Luhoway
Agency: DDB Canada
CD: Eva Polis
Design director: Howard Poon
CW: Jenn Keller
ADs: Brian Macdonald, Clayton Kropp
VP director of client services: Martha Jamieson
Account supervisor: Geoff Grimble