For most smokers, the message that cigarettes are fatally bad for their health often doesn’t come across. But if that message came written in ink made from pitch black lungs? It’s a morbid concept, one that was actually followed through by BBDO Proximity Thailand, an agency which commissioned the charcoal ink, part of an anti-smoking effort for the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

A person drawing using ink made out of extracts from smoker's lungs.  BBDO PROXIMITY THAILAND / THAI HEALTH PROMOTION FOUNDATION

A person drawing using ink made out of extracts from smoker’s lungs. BBDO PROXIMITY THAILAND / THAI HEALTH PROMOTION FOUNDATION

The agency worked with scientists at the  Chulalongkorn University in Thailand who extracted material from donated longs from deceased smokers. The emotional impact is definitely powerful, so it’s not surprising to hear there were 500% more signups for the foundations smoking cessation program once the campaign went public and viral.

It may be gory, but it worked. According to the government, 47 percent of men and nearly 3 percent of women smoked in 2011, a total of 13 million adults or 24 percent of the population. In the United States, just under 18 percent of adults smoke cigarettes.

It’s possible that BBDO was inspired by previous campaigns, since morbidity enticed emotional responses seems to be a thing in advertising right now. Magazine Audio Kultur recently published an issue written in literal blood to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and Vangardist Magazine printed an issue using ink infused with HIV-positive blood.

The Message from the Lungs (Thai Health Promotion Foundation) from Bbdo Proximity Thailand on Vimeo.

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