Cigarette smoking rates among young people in America have declined dramatically in recent years. This goes along with a larger trend showing that tobacco use for all Americans is at the lowest level ever recorded. That’s a good thing. Organizations like Truth have been on the frontline fighting youth smoking for years. I remember their provocative commercials being played endlessly when I was an adolescent. Back then, they went for a more “shock and awe” approach such as a spot piling body bags outside a tobacco company headquarters to represent daily smoking related deaths in the United States. It apparently was quite memorable since I’m recalling it about 15 years later.
However, Truth also has a reputation of being overly heavy-handed. I definitely remember rolling my eyes at many of their ads. They tended to portray tobacco companies as sociopathic organizations. The thing is, young people chose to smoke, and tobacco companies never forced it upon them (as famously lampooned on South Park.) In the last 20 years, tobacco advertising has become almost non-existent, a time period with coincides with the rapid decline in youth smoking. Has the lack of Joe Camel had an effect?
All of this is a lengthy buildup for me to say that the latest commercial from Truth is really terrible. It takes place at a college party when defensive social smokers are confronted with different Internet memes telling them “It’s A Trap!” The actual memes themselves are relatively old and hackneyed. Truth’s point is that social smoking is still smoking. But it’s pretty depressing that the ad seems to think that the best way to reach young people is with overused memes. This strikes me as the work of someone my age, desperately trying to reach “the youth.” But it just comes across as lame. This commercial sucks. Fail!