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The Smoking Kid: Messengers of cognitive dissonance

The Smoking Kid: Messengers of cognitive dissonance

The old adage “people should take their own advice” has never been more true than in this Thai ‘quit smoking ad’. The video below features children asking adults for a light.  Shocked, the adults precede to tell the kids how bad smoking is for them and what the affects really are.  This is the classic case of hitting someone over the head with cognitive dissonance or rather that their talk does not match their walk.


Watch how the adults are speechless when presented with a small flyer saying “You worry about me, why not yourself?”

This ad was first brought to my attention in a listserve email sent by Nancy Lee ( Author and Social Marketing consultant ) and it was sent to show an example of how critical messengers can be persuasive in changing behavior.  I suppose that often it is from the mouth of babes or ‘innocence’ that we are reminded and shocked into better behavior.
While quite persuasive, some can say that at some points it looks like the smokers are actors because of their ability to clearly articulate the negative consequences of smoking to these children. Even if it is acting, I am quite sure that many smokers worldwide know this information and yet still decide not to change behavior.  Information only campaigns can address only one issue – the knowledge the target group has. Without an emotional or value based provocation it is difficult to touch on the root causes for certain behaviors.  I like this ad because it does both.

Olgivy, Thailand
Thai Health Promotion Foundation
Georgetown Social Marketing ListServe

I am communications strategist and social entrepreneur leveraging new media and digital technology for social change. Read more