D&AD Archive: Q is for Quit

Daniel Headey is Associate Creative Director at Elvis Communications, the entrepreneurial integrated ad agency.

There, he has created award-winning work for Virgin Trains and has bored colleagues about his home county of Yorkshire. He writes songs, plays football, and is still proud of his old diarrhoea-based endline: Take Imodium, Take Control.

Smoking. Or rather…’not smoking’ is what I’ve decided to write about. There was a lovely Audi Quattro poster and a weirdly watchable beer advert called ‘Quench’. But the creative work from 2009 for the UK client QUIT stood out.

It stood out for many reasons. Working in the advertising industry being one and having worked at Saatchi & Saatchi for years, another. One more reason to come.

So, popping out from your establishment of choice for some fresh air…and a fag; you’d be faced with this clever piece of communication. A see-through ashbin, made to look like an x-ray of someone’s lungs filling up with tab ends. The headline reads ‘STOP SMOKING…and stop filling your lungs with poison’.

This is a simple, graphic metaphor that shocks the viewer. (Will it shock a smoker into quitting? Two smokers I asked said “Maybe”.) Who wants shite in their lungs? Surely there’s enough rubbish coming from the cars that are passing as you ‘smirt’. (I don’t think that word is in the Oxford English Dictionary yet. It will be.)

It also resonates with me because I’ve grown up with my northern Dad getting at my Mum about smoking. She does. He doesn’t. In fact he is the biggest anti-smoker you (don’t) know. His Dad died of smoking related illness and he also studied Sport and PE in the early 60’s and learnt how bad it was for you. And made sure he told my Sister and I what he’d learnt. Every other day. Still does.

I think the smoking ban was brought in to save our family’s embarrassment when my old man would cough overtly every time someone sparked up. This was anywhere by the way. Obviously restaurants warranted his version of anti anti-social behaviour. There’s nothing worse than eating when someone’s smoking and vice-versa. But this would happen outside in a park or walking around town. Yes, Outside! His nose would detect the faintest whiff of what he labelled the ‘carcinogenic adult dummy’ at fifty paces.

His attitude obviously pervaded my young malleable mind just as smoke pervades people’s clothes, because I don’t smoke. I can’t smoke. It feels weird and an unnatural thing for my body to do. And I don’t see the point. Ok, funny fags, whacky-backy, a joint – I understand why people do that. It’s naughty. Historically writers and creative types have tried to alter their minds a little. But does smoking do that? I don’t think it does, does it? I don’t know. And I don’t want to offend any smokers out there at all. Each to their own, of course.

Photography / Poster Advertising, Hook 2, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, 2007, In Book

Even the Man City manager Roberto Mancini recently said of charismatic player-smoker Mario Balotelli “For me it is not OK but I am not his father,” he said. “If he were my son, I would give him a kick up the arse, but he is not my son.”

Perhaps Mario should visit this D&AD site. It might change his mind. Failing that, just have a chat with my Dad.

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