Thailand's anti-smoking YouTube hit

A Thai anti-smoking advert goes viral on Youtube with over two million views in two weeks and winning praise from around the world.

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This was first published on July 4, 2012. The included video is quite remarkable and deserves world-wide attention.

Click button to listen to Smoking and rightclick to download

Message hits home

Thai anti-smoking video campaign making waves on YouTube 

Yanapon Musiket

The camera follows a little boy and a girl, walking up to men and women smoking in a public area outside an office building. Cigarette in hand, and in the casual manner of one smoker to another, they ask the adults for a lighter.

Shocked by the request, the smoking adults refuse to lend a light and begin lecturing the kids about the harm of tobacco.

Tension ensues and things get emotional and the kids shoot back: "If smoking is bad, why do you smoke?" They pass on a piece of paper to the smokers before walking away.

The note reads: "You're worried about me but why not about yourself?"

This is a Thai anti-tobacco campaign titled Smoking Kids, and its creepy, urgent power comes from its reality-TV style – a hand-held camera shot from various angles that seem to catch those smoking people unawares, plus the prankish twist that delivers the message and makes the adults blush.

Posted on YouTube, the video recently went viral. After just two weeks, the number of viewers has reached two million. Comments have flooded in from all over the world, mostly praising the effectiveness and intelligence of the campaign.

The Thai Health Promotion Foundation commissioned Ogilvy & Mather to create the video. It is a campaign made specifically for social media websites and not for television, and the first in a series of anti-smoking videos the national health agency is planning to roll out.

"We have seen a number of anti-smoking campaigns, local and international," says Nopadol Srikieatikajohn, executive creative director of Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok.

"For this one, we decided to make it real and actionable. It is a simple production but we focus more on ideas and copywriting in order to communicate with the audience directly and effectively."

At the end of the video, a message informs us that almost every adult who receives the anti-smoking note passed on by the children instantly stops to think, then throws the cigarette away.

None of them throws away the note. And most importantly, the message tells us that the number of phone inquiries by smokers who wanted to quit has increased by 40%.

Supatnuj Sorndamrih, social marketing specialist at the foundation, says the agency is pleased with the instant success of the campaign.

"The video really helps us get this message across."

Supatnuj said the video was based on research and the foundation believes that smokers know the danger of tobacco well but choose to ignore it.

You can read the full story here:

hit home – (of a message, remark, statement, etc.) to have a strong effect on somebody, in a way that makes them realise what the true facts of a situation are
campaign – a series of actions intended to produce political or social change การรณรงค์
make waves – to create attention or cause problems by making suggestions or criticisms  สร้างความสนใจ, สร้างปัญหา, ก่อปัญหา, ทำให้ยุ่งยาก
public – open to people in general สาธารณะ
casual – relaxed and informal ตามอารมณ์,ไม่เป็นทางการ,ธรรมดา
manner – way ลักษณะท่าทาง, กิริยาท่าทาง, วิธีการ
adult – a fully grown person who is legally responsible for their actions  ผู้ใหญ่
shocked – very surprised and upset ตกใจ
request – an act of asking for something in a formal or polite way การขอร้อง
refuse – to say you will not do something that someone has asked you to do ปฏิเสธ
lecture – to criticise somebody or tell them how you think they should behave, especially when it is done in an annoying way สั่งสอน, ตักเตือน
harm – damage ความเสียหาย
tobacco – ยาสูบ, a substance that people smoke in cigarettes, pipes etc
tension – the feeling of being so nervous or worried that you can’t relax  ความตึงเครียด
ensue – to happen after something else, often as a result of it ตามมา
emotional – related to strong feeling such as anger or love, or strong feelings in general  อารมณ์
creepy – unpleasant in a way that makes you feel nervous or frightened  น่าขยะแขยง, น่ากลัว
urgent – of something you need to deal with immediately เร่งด่วน
reality – what is actually happening ความเป็นจริง
angle – the direction from which something comes, or the direction from which you look at something, especially when it is not directly in front of you มุม
catch unawares – to cause/find someone who doesn't realise that something exists or is happening อย่างไม่รู้ตัว
prank – a trick that is played on somebody as a joke การล้อเล่น, การเล่นตลก
twist – an unexpected change or development in a story or situation การเปลี่ยนแปลงที่ไม่คาดคิด
blush – to feel embarrassed or ashamed, especially involving your face turning red  มีอาการหน้าแดงเพราะเขินอาย
go viral – (of a video, photo, story, etc.) to spread across the internet very quickly (like a virus spreading a disease) as people share it with their friends or the news media reports on it   แพร่กระจายผ่านทางอินเทอร์เน็ตอย่างรวดเร็ว
praise – to express strong approval or admiration ยกย่อง, ชื่นชม
effectiveness – the ability to produce the result that is intended ประสิทธิผล
intelligence – the ability to understand and think about things, and to gain and use knowledge สติปัญญา, ความเฉลียวฉลาด,ไหวพริบ
foundation – an organisation that provides money for things such as medical research or for a charity มูลนิธิ
commission – to officially ask for a piece of work to be done มอบหมายให้ทำ
specifically – in a detailed and exact way เฉพาะ, เฉพาะเจาะจง
social media – the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. เครือข่ายสังคมออนไลน์
roll out – to introduce a new product or service; launch เปิดตัว, เริ่มนำ
local – in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about  ท้องถิ่น
copywriting – writing the text for an advertisement
instantly – immediately ทันที
inquiry – the process of asking questions การสอบถาม
specialist – a person who is an expert in a particular area of work or study ผู้ชำนาญเฉพาะทาง
research – a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it การวิจัย
ignore – to fail to pay attention to; to pretend that you have not noticed or do not know about something เพิกเฉย

About the author

Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Online Editor of Learning & Education