Tobacco Control – the power of advertising

Story of the film

In this film from Thinkbox and the IPA - part of a series celebrating some of the top case studies from 30 years of the IPA Effectiveness Awards - showcases how a coalition of advertisers - the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research, and the NHS - made advertising more powerful than word of mouth in getting smokers to quit, and quadrupled the effectiveness of tobacco control communications.


It tells the story of how anti-smoking advertising quadrupled in effectiveness to become the most powerful trigger to smokers kicking the habit: more important even than word of mouth or doctor's advice. At its heart this case is proof that integration works. However, this is not the usual story of integration. This is the story of how sometimes the best, most powerful form of integration involves not just different channels, different products or different brands, but actually different advertisers: the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research and the NHS. The campaign gave people different reasons to quit, using multiple messages that acted on different triggers across several campaign strands.

Television was key to communicating the emotional and physical consequences of smoking and, ultimately, in encouraging smokers to seek support.

In the second section of the film, we hear about the lessons of this campaign for subsequent Tobacco Control communications and also draw out some broader advertising effectiveness learnings from our contributors.

Tobacco Control

Great proof that advertising can effect mass behavioural change on even the most difficult social issues

Andy Nairn, Former Executive Planning Director, MCBD

Tobacco Control

Tobacco Control was one of the most memorable and effective public health campaigns ever to have run.

Neil Dawson, Founding Partner, HMDG, Convenor of Judges for the 2008 IPA Effectiveness Awards


Appearing on film:

Titles were correct at the time of publish date

  • Sir John Hegarty, Worldwide Creative Director, BBH
  • Clare Hutchinson,  Head of Planning, WCRS (Author / Ex AMV)
  • Sheila Mitchell, Marketing Director, Department of Health 
  • Kate Waters,  Planning Partner, Partners Andrews Aldridge (Author / ex Euro)
  • Gerry Moira, chairman and director of creativity, Euro RSCG London 

With additional effectiveness insight from:

  • Laurence Green, Former Chairman of Fallon


This film is based on an award winning IPA paper. Here the details.

Full Title: Tobacco Control: how the integration of advertisers made advertising more powerful than word of mouth

Awards: 2004 IPA Effectiveness Awards, Gold Award and Best Dedication to Effectiveness (The Simon Broadbent Award) 

Clients: British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research; and the NHS

Agencies: AMV.BBDO, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Euro RSCG London

Authors: Clare Hutchinson, Annabelle Watson, Jane Dorsett, Kate Waters, Ann Marie Kilpatrick, Frank Reitgassl

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