Social norms + foot humor = fewer teen smokers in Texas?

Enviromedia produces a new social norms ad about teen smoking in Texas.

The ad follows a similar structure to the “15 and falling” campaign about teen smoking in Canada by combining a descriptive norm message.

So do social norms ad targeted at teens need a dash of teen humor to make them stick?

The Nudge blog asked Enviromedia creative director Doug Irving for a peek behind the curtain about the ad’s origins. Doug said his team wasn’t aware of the “15 and falling ad” campaign, but definitely drew from the lessons of social norms work.

We knew from research (our own (qualitative research) and (the) Texas Dept. of State Health Services’ (quantitative research)) that peers are the biggest influencers among teen smokers. We’re also familiar with the power of social norming as a behavior-change and myth-busting technique. So when we came across a stat that so vividly illustrates how smoking has become a fringe habit, bingo…

That’s the science. As far as the art, we know you have to present your compelling fact in an entertaining way that cuts through the eight zillion other advertising messages teens have learned to tune out in a typical day. Humor isn’t the only way, but when it’s on the money, it’s hard to beat.

When our creative teams share their initial raw ideas, I’m searching for something that’s got the right balance between memorable, repeat-viewing-worthy weird and still delivering that message. Anything that drifts toward finger-wagging or adult versions of “cool” never makes it to the client meeting. If it makes everyone laugh the fifth time you present it, that’s a good sign.

In this case, spots involving a falconer, a coughed-up lung and the shushing foot seemed to hit the sweet spot. Some additional testing with teens in the target confirmed the foot as the winner. And here we are today.

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