Monday, April 06, 2009

Interesting persuasive technique in anti-smoking ad

The latest anti-smoking ad being shown on tv here:

As a means of persuasion, it employs an interesting technique, one that I think is pretty effective.

It tries to take on trite kind-of 'excuses'. It doesn't try to counter them by dealing directly what their content. It doesn't explicitly respond to them at all. Each one is followed by a totally separate slice of conversation from a totally separate situation.

That next slice of conversation 'responds' to the triteness by highlighting the seriousness of what is really at stake. What's interesting is how it does this. It takes the syntactical form of the trite statement "I don't think I can quit" and 'responds' with another one with a parallel form "I don't think I can operate".

Something about that parallelism makes the response a powerful smackdown. I think it must be that our brains take that similar structure as meaning the response's content consititutes a very complete and definitive response.


  1. The risk of dying from lung cancer before age 85 is 22.1% for a male smoker and 11.9% for a female current smoker, in the absence of competing causes of death. The corresponding estimates for lifelong nonsmokers are a 1.1% probability of dying from lung cancer before age 85 for a man of European descent, and a 0.8% probability for a woman