Directed by Harvest’s Baker Smith, “Unsweetened truth” Asks “Why Do They Make Tobacco Taste Sweet?”

Living with tobacco-related diseases and the devastating effects of tobacco use take center stage in the latest creative from truth®, the nation’s largest smoking prevention campaign for youth.

“Unsweetened truth” is a new commercial from truth, directed by Harvest’s Baker Smith, that vividly illustrates the impact of smoking on health. In the spot, six real people suffering from tobacco-related disabilities are featured on a parade float traveling through the heart of Hollywood. As the float travels along, spectators can see the obvious physical disabilities each person is living with. They can also hear the half-dozen participants “singing” a tune about the many different flavors used to enhance tobacco products. It can be viewed here:

While the American public may commonly connect tobacco use with often fatal diseases such as lung cancer and heart attacks, an estimated 8.6 million people in the United States are living with serious illnesses attributed to smoking. For many, it means suffering on a daily basis, and drastic changes from their pre-disease lifestyles.

The spot highlights a new fact: “Tobacco companies can’t sell candy-flavored cigarettes, but they still sell other tobacco products in over 45 candy flavors.” With this spot, truth seeks to highlight how living with tobacco-related diseases is not just about dying; having such diseases is also about living with the effects of cancers of the mouth, throat and neck; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); emphysema; and loss of voice. Moreover, anyone who uses tobacco has the potential to develop such diseases.

Thomas Cook, 51, is one of the participants in the campaign. Cook previously appeared in the Emmy-nominated truth commercial, “Singing Cowboy,” in 2006. Images of Tom singing the words “you don’t always die from tobacco…” with an electronic voice box generated keen interest on YouTube and propelled the ad to iconic status. Cook started smoking at age 13 and was diagnosed at 38 with Stage IV larynx cancer.

Four of the featured participants can no longer work in their chosen fields or find full employment, due to physical disabilities. One gave up on his dreams of playing college baseball, after being diagnosed with cancer at age 17. Another cast member has severe physical limitations that impair his mobility and lifestyle.

Tom’s stories and the stories of other participants in the ad are shown online through a series of Harvest Films’ produced video vignettes, and extended through mobile functions. The campaign will run through June, in cinema and via targeted online and mobile initiatives.

Client: American Legacy/Truth
Spot Title: “Unsweetened Candy”

Agency: Arnold Worldwide
VP, CD: John Kearse
VP, CD: Meg Siegal
ACD, CW: Todd Mitchell
ACD, AD: Corey Favier
AD: Mike Costello
SVP, Group Head/ Broadcast: Kevin Shale

Production Company: harvest films / Santa Monica
Director: Baker Smith
EP: Bonnie Goldfarb
EP: Scott Howard
Producer / Head of Production : Rob Sexton
Line Producer: Mala Vasan
DP: Curtis Wehr / Murtha Agency
Art Director: Fanae Aaron
Float Construction: Fiesta Parade Floats / Abel Ledezma