Theme parks and fantasy worlds are billed as magical places that contradict reality, which is exactly where the disinformation from the tobacco industry belongs, argues the California Tobacco Prevention Program.
In “Big Tobacco’s Fantasyland,” a new spot from independent agency Duncan Channon, Californians are warned about harms of vaping and the disinformation and half-truths spread by the tobacco industry.
In California, 110 people die every day from tobacco-related disease, and 6 trillion cigarettes are still sold each year, according to CTPP. The tobacco industry has also attempted to rebrand e-cigarettes in recent years, claiming they’re healthier than regular cigarettes. Many flavored vapes have also been banned by the FDA because they appeal to children, but are still easily available in the U.S. through online sales.
A series of 30-second ads spotlight the tobacco industry’s disinformation. In one, a man is welcomed to a plush corporate retreat, complete with smiling receptionist and calming music. He’s gifted a golden vape pen and walks into a swirling abyss, where he joins others with gold vape pens who are struggling to escape a surreal nightmare. A calm voiceover narrates the hellish journey, ending with the warning: “In Big Tobacco’s Fantasyland, the deadliest industry is your friend.”
The ads are designed to seem calm and serene at first glance, said Anne Elisco-Lemme, executive creative director at Duncan Channon.
“But it’s slowly revealed that this is really an illusion—a softly lit, pastel-colored world that ultimately leads to isolation, addiction and disease,” Elisco-Lemme said. “It’s a place where they want you to believe that everything is fine and the tobacco industry is your friend.”
The spots are directed by Ghanaian-Dutch filmmaker and visual artist Emmanuel Adjei, whose works typically explore ideas such as power, freedom, displacement and inequality. The ads were also deliberate in their casting, including people of color and LGBTQIA+ people, which are populations specifically targeted by the tobacco industry.
The media strategy for the campaign is designed to reach the diverse audiences targeted by the tobacco industry and is adapted into six other languages to better reach those communities. The campaign will run across all advertising formats, including TV, radio, streaming audio, digital, print and out-of-home. This includes high impact OOH in units near several California landmarks, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame, SoFi Stadium and Golden 1 Center.
See some of the OOH work here:
This is the latest work from Duncan Channon in California’s public service and health space. The San Francisco agency has been working with the CTPP since 2014 and won a $40 million opioid education campaign for the California Department of Health in May.