2018 Winner

Ontario Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care

Be a Failure

BBDO Toronto

SilverGame Changer

SilverNiche Strategy

BronzeCause/Public Service

BronzeResearch Mastery

Despite significant progress in curbing the use of tobacco products, 13,000 Ontarians still die each year as a result of tobacco-related diseases. Smokers know it’s bad. In fact, the Ministry of Health’s own research showed that more than 80% of regular smokers 18-34 years old thought
about quitting “a lot” or “sometimes” in the past couple of months, and many said they hope to quit within the next 2 to 3 months. Despite this, only a tiny percentage of young smokers have actually made an honest attempt to quit.

The challenge was to address this inaction and encourage smokers to follow their ambition with a real quit attempt. The Ministry of Health needed to break ground on smokers’ actual behaviour, measured by “serious intention to quit”, time spent with government quit resources, and increasing reported “immediate quit intentions”.

Fear of failure dissuades smokers from making quit attempts. Everyone knows quitting smoking is hard. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things smokers will ever have to do. Data from the Canadian Cancer Society shows that, to successfully quit, smokers may need to try between five to seven times. Other studies show even lower numbers. However, these studies had a glaring flaw in their methodologies: the researchers had asked former smokers to recall the number of times they had attempted to quit without considering people’s propensity to downplay their failures or the inevitability of memory decay. The team discovered a new BMJ Open study which took a different approach: it analyzed data from participants in the Ontario Tobacco Survey and followed up with them every six months for three years and found an average of 29.6 quit attempts.

This finding led to the insight that smokers experience much more disappointment than initially suspected. It was an elephant in the room that strongly discouraged smokers from making the next attempt to quit. As smokers become afraid to fail again, they’re less and less likely to succeed.

The team created a new message in the “heard it all before” anti-smoking category: Embrace Failure. The campaign welcomed the reality that attempts to quit smoking are likely to fail, but it’s okay – that’s how you quit. The pressure was taken off by normalizing failure as part of the quitting process.

18 to 34-year-old smokers are hardly ever spotted going out for a smoke without browsing their smartphones. To reach them while smoking, the campaign was built to have a mobile focus. To capture their attention effectively, digital video provided a thumb-stopping option while browsing, and mobile-optimized digital display appeared alongside age relevant content. To intercept the habit of social browsing while smoking, the message appeared in Facebook and Twitter feeds, reinforced by influencers who generated their own posts on the topic. To reach them outside of digital, static and digital posters were placed on campuses and in resto-bars frequented by young smokers.

Embracing failure generated significant measurable increases across all KPIs, driven by an attitude shift in the key demographic. Post-campaign tracking reported that the key behaviour
change metric (“seriously intend to quit”) improved 20% above Ministry norms. Average time spent on the Quit Resources website was over 3x above government norms, and the campaign generated a 17% lift in immediate quit intentions. These behaviors were driven by 87% of those seeing the ads re-contextualizing failure and doubling the perceived number of quit attempts they expect to try before succeeding.

The estimated ROI of the campaign is exceptional. Smoking-related healthcare costs in Ontario are estimated to be $5B a year. The campaign generated a 17-point lift in intention to quit among regular smokers and 1/6 of the ~600,000 target indicated serious interest in exploring
quitting resources. If even only 5% of those smokers follow through, this would equate to potential long-term savings of $35M per year, which is more than 50x the annual cost of the campaign. This incredible ROI solidified the strategy of embracing failure for the inevitable future of Ontario’s cessation efforts with young smokers.

Agency: BBDO Toronto - Flare
Chief Creative Officer: Denise Rossetto
Chief Creative Officer: Todd Mackie
VP, ACD, Art Director: Joel Pylypiw
VP, ACD, Copywriter: Chris Booth
VP, Group Account Director: Jennifer Jones
Account Director: Paul Forrest
Executive Producer: Dave Lembke
Strategist: Zach Kula

Production Company: Hidden Trail Media
Producer: David Stulberg
Director: Jordan Dashner
DOP: Peter Hadfield

Post House: Rooster Post
Executive Producer: Melissa Khan
Editor: Colin Murdock

Audio Houses: Cylinder Sound & Vintage Lane Audio

For registration inquiries, please contact Ben Soldinger at bsoldinger@brunico.com.
For partnership inquiries, please contact Neil Ewen at newen@brunico.com.