In the Nic of Time

Published on .

Here's a breath of fresh air: Anti-tobacco spots that aren't grim, preachy or florid with the usual righteous indignation. For a Pennsylvania Department of Health quitline, we get a guy in a cigarette costume (excellently played by Chicago actor Robert Buscemi) who taunts a woman named Cindy who's trying to quit for the umpteenth time. Not only do the spots reflect the sweet agony of addiction, they're downright funny, as the cigarette watches TV in Cindy's apartment and harangues her in a restaurant and at the gym. "Everyone involved debated the merits of how best to represent the smoking habit," recalls Two Popes producer Greg Pope. "The goal was to represent the more pedestrian and banal side of smoking, so we were going for obnoxious and stupid. Any sort of animation can detract from or overwhelm a performance. No one should stop to wonder how it was done. We wanted the kind of obnoxious that everyone relates to and runs from. So, it was, Let's just stick a guy in a cig costume and let him rip. And he did."

Client: Pennsylvania Tobacco Prevention Agency: The Neiman Group ECD: Rudy Banny GCD/AD: Buffy McCoy Kelly CW: Rich Hilbert Agency Producer: Frank Arendt Director: Jerry Pope/Two Popes Editor: Oren Sarch/Blue Rock Editing Co.

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