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January 25, 2011

World's best advertisement for a social cause (stopping cigarette smoking)

The next in line of honor is an advertisement that I saw and remember as a student of MBA at Osmania University 26 years ago. The advertisement is given below for your perusal. This dramatic visual (hats off to the visualizer and the photographer) a study in simplistic clarity of thinking. 

It has a pistol with its magazine thrown open. Instead of six bullets there are six cigarettes. The gun is fired and one of the cigarettes is thrown out of the gun. The message is simple and clear. Cigarettes can kill and they can kill as certainly and as effectively and efficiently as a bullet that is fired from the gun.

This is one dramatic message that hits the jugular. Every smoker knows that each time he smokes he is reducing his life span by 6 minutes but the visual representation of the gun and the cigarettes brings the horrors of cigarettes smoking into the conscious mind and makes it stay right there. It will sit like a fat Sumo wrestler in the conscious mind and will pinprick the smoker conscience every time he smokes. Kudos to the creator and the advertising agency.
  • Keeping to the topic of cigarette smoking I remember the discussion we had in our class of statistics in my MBA course. Our statistics professor was saying about probability and remarked that there is a very high probability of smokers getting throat cancer. One of the student objected saying that his grandfather was a smoker and that he is hale and healthy at an age of 85. He was hinting that smoking is actually good for health.
  • Our Professor in statistics was a smart cookie. He said “Ravi, let us take the busiest place in Hyderabad which is Abids. And the busiest time is 1200 hours (mid afternoon). Crossing the road from one side to the other at 1200 hours at Abids is risky but mostly safe if you are cautious. What would happen if you are blindfolded and attempt to cross the road?”
  • The class roared in laughter at the response as the student sullenly replied “most probably I would meet with an accident” 
  • The Professor quickly added "you got it right. If your eyes are open that is if you are not smoking in most cases you will not get cancer. If you are not fortunate you might still get cancer (the case of the pedestrian crossing the road carefully but still meeting with an accident because of unruly driving or unexpected turn of events). 
  • But if you are blind folded that is if you are a smoker you will most probably meet with an accident. In other words you will most probably get cancer. In very rare cases if you are lucky you might manage to reach the other  side unharmed inspite of being blindfolded. But the probability of that happening is very slim. In probability parlance your grand father is the lucky blindfolded person who dashed from one side of Abids to the other and still did not meet with an accident. Thank your stars for the good fortune”. 
  • Crushed by the clever and logical explanation and suitably christened Ravi sat down.

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