Not just blowing smoke?

no_smoking_sign.jpgRegulators have ordered tobacco companies to put more serious warning labels on cigarette packages. There are several visuals tobacco companies will be allowed to choose from, but they will be required to have one on every pack of cigarettes they sell. If you haven’t seen these yet, you might want to brace yourself before you click this link. My first thought was, well, “Ick!” Frankly, I also thought they were all a little too extreme.

But the truth is, whatever my opinion is doesn’t count for much.  I’m not a smoker and am therefore not in the ads’ target audience, and whether or not this connects with its target audience is the only relevant question. As a point of full disclaimer, I should probably point out with some embarrassment that I did dip snuff for 11 years, and I sure empathize with how tough an addiction nicotine is to kick. I’ve also attended more funerals that are directly related to cigarettes than I care to recall, so anything that discourages smoking is fine by me.

Anyhow, as it turns out, although the new packaging hasn’t even hit the shelves yet, the number of inquiries to the National Stop Smoking Help Line have doubled since word of the new ads was shared in the press. It is estimated that the number of inquiries will climb dramatically again once the new cigarette packs make their way into distribution.  You can read the story here and you’ll see how the new packaging will transform the look of the shelf space curently occupied by cigarettes here.

As one of my favorite marketing authors, Sergio Zyman has said emphatically in his books, “Good marketing gets results!” I suppose we could argue that while the ultimate measure of results will be the number of smokers who are converted into non-smokers, I think a 100 percent increase in inquiries about how to go about kicking the smoking habit is most definitely a step in the right direction and something worth celebrating.