Anti-Smoking Spot Features Singing Cartoons

American Legacy Says It's Targeting Teens, not Camel

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Joe Camel is dead; long live Joe Camel. Cartoon characters may be banned from tobacco advertising, but they are now singing and dancing in anti-tobacco ads.

The American Legacy Foundation tomorrow breaks new creative for its Truth campaign. It features cartoon characters and real actors singing a sarcastic song called the "Magical Amount," a reference to the level of nicotine needed to addict smokers without making them sick.

The "Sunny Side of Truth" campaign is the last from the collaboration between Havas's Arnold and MDC Partners-owned Crispin Porter & Bogusky. Arnold is now the foundation's only agency.

Foundation officials said the use of the cartoon characters -- including a singing unicorn, a leprechaun and a group of fairies -- isn't an attempt to emulate tobacco makers, but instead a move both to refresh the now two-year-old Truth creative and to use the mix of live-action and computer-generated animation seen in other spots targeting the teen audience.

"We need to follow the audience," said Julia Cartright, senior VP-communications.

The campaign is also undergoing some changes in media, with print out and more use of social-networking sites, the web and movie theaters.

The foundation, which was formed by state attorneys general following settlements with major tobacco makers, initially benefited from money the tobacco industry provided the states. Now without that money, the foundation is operating on a scaled-down $30 million a year.

Since the foundation first launched its Truth ad campaign in 2000, smoking has been on the decline both among teens and adults.

Dr. Cheryl Healton, the foundation's executive director, attributes about 22% of the teen decline to the campaign, but said she is concerned that the slowing numbers could be indicative of other problems.

Ms. Healton said the use of cartoon characters for anti-tobacco efforts carries some irony, but the use of animation with real people was an effort to use trendy creative to get a sophisticated message to the teen audience.

"We didn't pick animation because of Joe Camel. We used it because it breaks through the clutter," she said.

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