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Bidi smoke is eating your children alive

Bidi smoke is eating your children alive


This social marketing campaign from India is a strange one. The graphics, the blunt messaging, the over-the-top announcer and the scratched vintage-style documentary footage all look as if the campaign is intended to evoke memories of old educational films. Managed by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, it is funded by the World Lung Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

As the press release states, “India continues to break new ground in delivering blunt warnings about the harms of tobacco. Following previous hard hitting campaigns that showed the impact of tobacco on smokers and chewers, this campaign takes on second-hand smoke and the danger it poses to children. By showing specific illnesses – ear infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome – the message is clear that people who smoke around their children put them in grave danger. We hope this sends a strong message to those who smoke: to stop exposing children to their toxins and better yet, to stop using tobacco entirely.”

I don’t know how to take this campaign, culturally, since to me retro “scare film” style is usually used ironically. In this case, it seems to take away from the harsh reality of the damage secondhand smoke does to children (he wrote as he shook out of is head the lifelong dizziness caused by frequent childhood ear infections).

Two other notes on the campaign. One, after reading that PSA will be released in 16 languages, I will never complain about having to develop bilingual messaging again.

Second, I think their PR agency needs a proofreader:

According to Shri Keshav Desiraju, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, “(will note down a quote during the press launch and will add here; we did this way during bidi campaign as well)”.



Quit Now India
PR Wire

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more