“Can I get a light?” Most smokers are happy to oblige to the request. But when smokers in Thailand were asked this question, their responses were negative. “I’m not giving it to you,” said one smoker. “Cigarettes contain poison,” responded another. “They drill a hole in your throat for cancer. Aren’t you afraid of surgery?” lectured a third. Smoking makes you die faster, leads to lung cancer, and causes a variety of other ailments, they replied.
These weren’t public health workers talking but everyday smokers in the moment. Yet they ranted about smoking’s ills. And they did so because of the person who asked--a child. A small boy wearing a monkey T-shirt, or a girl in pigtails. The kids pulled cigarettes from their pockets and asked for a light.
After being rejected the kids turned to walk away. But before they did, they handed the smoker a piece of paper. It read “You worry about me. but why not about yourself? And at the bottom was a toll-free number smokers could call to kick the habit.
For twenty-five years, the Thai Health Foundation had promoted this free hotline. But despite investing millions of dollars, few people called.
So, in 2012, the foundation tried something different. They realized that the most convincing speaker wasn’t the foundation or celebrities; it was the smokers themselves. To really quit, people had to convince themselves. The Smoking Kid campaign was born.
With a budget of only $5,000 the campaign had an enormous impact! Calls to the helpline jumped more than 60 percent. A video filming these interactions went viral, gaining more than 5 million views in barely more than a week.
Even months later, calls to the helpline remained up by almost a third. Many called it the most effective anti-smoking ad ever.
from the book The Catalyst by Jonah Berger, also the best selling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Jonah will be making a guest appearance on our CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) live course. Get in touch if you'd like to try it for free: [email protected]