Tag Archives: smoking

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

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Quitting smoking is easier than many think: Pharm. companies want you to think otherwise

Researchers at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, after a review of 511 studies, found that most people who have quit tobacco have done so without the help of pharmaceuticals, and most people say that it was easier than they thought it would be. The researchers suggest that public education efforts that reflect these findings may help support quitting efforts.

They also propose that the companies who produce cessation-aiding drugs have contributed to the growing perception that quitting is extremely difficult, or impossible. Let’s take this commercial for instance.
Step Down Step Down

In this ad the company likens quitting smoking to standing on the edge of a 20+ story building, the wind is blowing, and to quit smoking you have to, I guess, jump? That IS scary! The smoker takes a step out, and thankfully a nicotine patch is there to catch him, acting like as stepping stone. Watch the ad.

Yes, quitting smoking can be difficult (I know, I have done it, and did so cold turkey), but is it really as terrifying as standing on the edge of a skyscraper and in order to quit you have to jump off!? Certainly not! Not to mention that even WITH those steps it would still be really frightening!

—follow-up: I wanted to just also mention that while this article is somewhat berating of the nicotine patch companies maybe it is a little harsh. Quitting smoking is very hard, and for some people it might seem nearly impossible. If the availability of the patch helps people to quit or at least gets people to consider quitting, then that’s great! Smoking is the cause of the most preventable deaths. Anything we can do to help people stop should be encouraged. However, my point still remains. No company or industry should be making quitting smoking seem harder than it actually is.