Monthly Archives: December 2010

Nicorette “Suck-O-Meter” commercial taps less obvious benefits of quitting smoking

In a previous entry I commented on TV ads for Nicoderm patches (a GlaxoSmithKline product). The basic gist of my post was this–companies that sell these quit aids are attempting to make quitting seem more difficult than it actually is so that people are more likely to buy and rely on their product. I thought this was slimy and a little distasteful, but not surprising.

Recently, Nicorette Gum (another GSK product) released a series of ads featuring a “Suckometer”. This symbolic meter represents urges or cravings to smoke. They show people using their gum in situations that smokers are more likely to relapse (e.g. traffic jam) and how the gum makes quitting “suck less”.

The most recent ad “Quitting Sucks Office” caught my eye. Watch it here:

Basically, some of the workers are going for a smoke break and they ask their co-worker, Carl, if he wants to join them. Carl successfully declines their offer because he has just taken a piece of the gum.

What inspired this post was the very end of the commercial. A women, who happens to be carrying a “suckometer” (indicating that she is also attempting to quit), says “Hi, Carl”, smiles and looks down embarrassingly, as if she has a crush on Carl.

Is this commercial hinting at the fact that if you quit smoking you are more likely to meet someone and have a romantic relationship? Probably! Research has shown that non-smokers are more likely to be viewed as potential romantic partners and smokers are most commonly viewed as risky in terms of romantic relationships (Fishbein, Hennessey, Yzer & Curtis, 2004).

This is solid marketing. Not only because it demonstrates the gums effectiveness and provides a common situation in which the gum might be helpful but because it eludes to the fact that quitting smoking can lead to other benefits besides reduce health risks. It looks like GSK has changed tactics.

I think this marketing strategy partially redeems GSK for their past misdeeds. Instead of making smoking seem harder, they are highlighting a perk that accompanies quitting, making smoking seem more worthwhile.

I would be interested to see how these ads impact their sales (of both the patch and the gum) in comparison to ads that make quitting seem more difficult. Could we compare smokers urge/craving and their desire to quit following exposure to these two types of commercials? Possible research/dissertation topic!?

P.S. Is the lead actor John Malkovich!? Just kidding. :p