If you have been watching Australian TV lately, it's likely you've also had the misfortune of seeing the latest quit-smoking ad. Now that I know what the soundtrack is, I can avert my eyes or switch channels for a minute, but the first couple of times I ended up catching more than an eyeful of clogged artery, fibrin-plugged brain, and carbonated lung.
The thing that annoys is how personalised the script is. "And you still smoke." "Maybe you do need help quitting." Hello? Mr/Ms Scriptwriter/Art Director/Barista From Coffee Joint Downstairs Of Ad Agency (who knows who's truly the source of most ads, anyway)? In case you hadn't realised, not the entire population of Australia smokes. This might surprise you, but yes, it is true! So actually, you tell a lie. No, I do not "still" smoke, because I in fact can never have been said to smoke, not even when they set me on fire. (That was a bad joke, much like your ad. Only it's not funny. Oh, wait. Neither is your ad.) Therefore, there is nothing for me to quit, nothing I need help quitting from. Fine, maybe chocolate, but that has nothing to do with clogged art-
OK, let's not lose focus here. All I'm saying is, this latest in a long series of ads for a very good cause seems to me equivalent to spraying an entire arenaful of rock fans with foam just because one of them held up a lighter during the last ballad. Why, why am I and the rest of the non-smoking, not-needing-to-quit population of TV watchers being subjected to this revolting sight?
Oh, I get it, because it's worth grossing out an entire nation (at least, the parts of it that watch TV) if some lives are saved by these ads. But I have the most distastefully cynical suspicion that the only people giving an "oh, yuck!" reaction to these ads are the non-smokers. The smokers? Probably too much nicotine on the brain to care. Or they might have sold their TVs to pay for more cigarettes. Or maybe, as anyone who does not want completely unedifying images of severely damaged vital organs running through their brains might do, they avert their eyes or switch channels for a minute when the ad comes on.
It's things like these that make me thankful for the simple things. Things like blue sky, rainbows, and DVD box sets. Yay for technology that enables you to escape hideous advertisements.