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Florida's anti-tobacco ad reaches new arena

The Truth campaign will tackle a statewide audience with a new animated ad during the Super Bowl.

By STEPHEN HEGARTY

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 26, 2001


Florida's anti-tobacco Truth campaign, famous for its high-profile, edgy commercials, will unveil a new ad Sunday before perhaps its biggest audience ever: Super Bowl fans.

On Sunday, Florida viewers will see a 30-second anti-tobacco ad intended to tickle their funny bone.

The commercial won't have a full national audience. Those ads are going for about $2.4-million per half-minute this year. Instead, it will target Florida's largest television markets before, during and right after the game at a cost of $227,525.

"This is going to be the first in a series," said Florida Health Department spokesman Frank Penela. "We're kicking it off during a time when it will have a lot of visibility."

The commercial will be animated with a stylized retro look. It will show a round-headed kid on a motor scooter going down a street, tossing something at house after house. A man who apparently has no eyes comes out in his pajamas and picks up the squishy, round thing that was thrown at his front door. It's a pair of eyes, which he inserts into the sockets in his head. Then you see that the kid on the scooter is wearing the Truth logo.

"It's the rebirth of Truth; it's saying, "Hey, open your eyes. These tobacco companies are still doing this stuff,' " Penela said.

Despite the bizarre, empty eye-socket detail, the ads are "not scary at all; they're fun," said Ryan O'Rourke, the art director with Crispin Porter & Bogusky, which created the ad. During the 30-second spot, peppy music from an obscure Japanese DJ plays in the background.

As is routine for the Truth campaign commercials, the idea for this ad was approved by a panel of Florida teens.

The Truth campaign bought a package deal that is expected to reach an audience of roughly 527,000 teens.

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