Jerome Guilbert, BETC's head of planning, devised a strategy to tap into the new breed of activist consumer, dubbed the "prosumer," and to encourage dissent against the evils of tobacco. "In every smoker is a prosumer sleeping," he said. "We had to wake up that guy."
In research, smokers were shown a list of chemicals found in a certain product. Asked if they would fight to ban the product, 100% said they would. When told that the product was the cigarette, Mr. Guilbert said, "They were stunned. A strong insight emerged-that smokers are as sensitive as anyone else to dangerous products."
At the heart of the campaign was a 12-second TV spot announcing that a popular product contained traces of mercury, ammonia, hydrocyanic acid and acetone.
When consumers rang a protest hot-line number, they discovered that the product was the cigarette, and smokers were offered assistance with quitting. The hot-line number was jammed with 1 million callers on the evening the ad was shown.
BETC judges the success of its campaign for the French health authority, INPES, by the 5.8% decrease in tobacco sales by volume between June 2002 and May 2003-the highest annual decrease since 1944.