Background and Context:
ThaiHealth. the health promotion foundation in Thailand, has been recognized for many successful social marketing campaigns for tobacco control, the most famous being the “smoking kid” campaign which went viral on YouTube in 2012, receiving millions of views and praised as the best anti-smoking ad ever produced. Yet, many of these campaigns have seen little analysis.
We reviewed the campaigns launched on radio and television for tobacco control since 2005.. Specific attention was given to media mix, reach, evaluation and focus as compared to other concurrent elements of tobacco control by government agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Media campaigns have variable effects depending on whether they tell the public why they should be motivated to act or how they should carry out a change in behavior. We did content analysis to determine the emphasis in Thailand.
The approach evident in the analysis of the 27 TV and radio spots on tobacco shows a light-hearted approach which emphasizes how family and community prize tobacco control including smoke-free places, realization of the dangers to health from smoking, and the moral obligation to preserve life. This soft-sell approach is comparable to efforts to nudge people in the right direction, rather than forcing them by very strict regulatory enforcement methods.
Outcomes/What was learned:
Analysis of smoker awareness shows that ThaiHealth has been successful in getting public awareness of various dimensions of tobacco harm and benefits from not smoking/protection against secondhand smoke exposure. This has been done through an emphasis on a caring, helpful approach in contrast to the rather dramatic warnings of disease and death of picture pack warnings on Thai cigarette packs. This focus has targeted specific populations to bring tobacco control messages that resonate with tobacco-using segments of society.