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Efforts to get people to quit smoking often center around lectures or scare tactics, but last year MTV and the European Commission tried to deliver a new way of telling youth across Europe to choose a healthier lifestyle.
In a bid to relate with smokers rather than alienate them, MTV's Smoke Screen campaign arranged for 10 smokers from across Europe to embark on personal but public quests to give up the habit of a lifetime over one month. Each was given his or her own quitting method -- from hypnotherapy to acupuncture to quitting cold-turkey -- and charged with blogging about their experience.
Quitters posted video diaries, photos and daily status updates to MTV Smoke Screen, all of which were fully subtitled and translated for all 27 members of the European Union. Miss Quit from Quit U.K. provided expert help and advice to the quitters while MTV bloggers gave them messages of support.
Along with the European Commission's "Help in My Pocket" mobile app, there was also an area of the site dedicated to each of the quitting methods and information on how to find out more about the help available when quitting smoking.
The creative was built to expose the mass MTV audience to the quitters' challenges and their progress over the month. This was achieved by including short video extracts from the quitters as well as weekly status updates, localized into 23 languages to engage the audience with the narrative. Users were given an additional incentive to click: a chance to win tickets to the MTV Europe Music Awards in Berlin last November. The MTV Smoke Screen site and the competition were promoted frequently via all available MTV social-media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter.
A select group of My MTV Panel Respondents in Europe were tasked with viewing and commenting on the Smoke Screen campaign website.
The general response to MTV Smoke Screen was very positive. The majority could identify either themselves or their friends in the quitters, whose variety of backgrounds was regarded as one of the best parts of the campaign.
Ultimately, all of the quitters quit smoking. The activity managed to demonstrate concern by giving Europeans a voice to share their journeys with fellow quitters. That message was viewed by an estimated five million young Europeans via the video ad units and over 100,000 on the microsite.
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