Smokers report that they find ads that focus on “why to quit” — using graphic images or testimonials that evoke emotional response — more effective than others, according to a study by researchers at RTI International and Cornell University, HealthDay reported Nov. 12.
Researchers analyzed data from a web survey of 7,060 adult smokers in New York state, the New York Media Tracking Survey Online. Smokers rated four different tobacco cessation ads and gave additional information about their desire to quit, the number of cigarettes they smoked, and their attempt to quit smoking in the past.
Their responses indicated that ads that used personal testimonials or graphic images and answered the question of why to quit were more effective than ads that focused on how to quit, or ads that criticized the tobacco industry.
“While there is considerable variation in the specific execution of these broad themes, ads using the ’why to quit’ strategy with graphic images or personal testimonials that evoke specific emotional responses were perceived as more effective than the other ad categories,” said the lead author, Kevin Davis or RTI’s Public Health Policy Research Program.
Smokers who had not tried to quit during the past year or who were less interested in quitting, according to the study’s authors, “responded significantly less favorably to all types of cessation ads tested.” Some respondents in this category reported smoking more cigarettes than before seeing the ads.
Davis wrote, “These findings suggest that smokers clearly differ in their reactions to cessation-focused advertising based on their individual desire to quit, prior experience with quit attempts and, to a lesser degree, cigarette consumption. These are important considerations for campaign creators, designers and media planners.”
The study, “Exploring differences in smokers’ perceptions of the effectiveness of cessation media messages,” was published online in Tobacco Control on Sept. 18, 2010.