Truth.com

This “Truth” advertisement on youth tobacco use would fall under an Indoctrination Campaign.  Although the connotation of the word is negative it can also be understood as being educational and informational.  The “Truth.com” advertisements would fall under being educational and informational to the target audiences of teenagers because most of them do not think about long term consequences, but focus on short term successes.  They are trying to inform the younger audiences that decisions early on in life can affect life only a few years down the road.  The focus on teaching the negative effects of tobacco use to an audience that may not understand them is essential to slowing the use.  This advertisement and the rest of the “Truth.com” campaign tries to bring a more long term, goal focused approach toward living.

Later on in the section of Indoctrination Campaign’s is a section on brainwashing.  While these advertisements would not be considered traditional brainwashing, the techniques of trying to break the bad habits of these teenagers follows along the same lines.  The article labeled the process of breaking down belief systems as demolition with three steps.  The first step is the unfreezing stage which involves invalidation, induction of guilt and the provision of psychological safety.  The “Truth.com” advertisement accomplishes invalidation by showing teens the very real dangers of tobacco use that they believe is cool or a sign of their adulthood.  It also bring guilt to these kids in the exact same way because not only are they participating, they are also pressuring their friends to use tobacco as well.  The guilt can stem from watching a friend go through cancer issues and change their lifestyle because of the peer pressure from your group.  The advertisement does not state it outright, but implies that the people around you can help in the transition in staying away from tobacco products.

The second step is the transitional stage where new beliefs where the people are trying to find new structural beliefs.  This process involves broadened perceptions and new standards of judgment.  This is where the visuals of the advertisement are very powerful.  The advertisements gets the people to broaden their perceptions of the time they spend using tobacco, as they could be bringing on cancer and in the long run hurt their chances at career goals.  The new standard of judgment is developed by not looking at what is “cool” to them in the moment but looking at what they want to accomplish as they get older.  If they use tobacco, cancer could take away years of their lives fighting to regain their image and health.

The third stage of refreezing, is a process where the person would fight the urge to revert to old behavior with the support systems and self-confidence gained because of the campaign.  This could not be seen via a singular advertisement but if you would look at the complete campaign the process of seeing different stories that also turned out negatively would reinforce the new way of thinking and hopefully bring the people around you to support the goal.  The number of advertisements in the campaign combined with vivid visual examples of the negatives of tobacco use while young drives the point home When individuals are restored to normal life with this new belief system in hand they have completed this last stage.

The advertisement is particularly focused on an audience of teenagers who use tobacco or who are often around tobacco products.  The persuasiveness of these advertisements make the refreezing step in the campaign the most powerful because of power of their imagery.  The speaker being young and a normal guy makes the message persuasive as people begin believing this could happen to anyone.  The exact type of tobacco, chew tobacco, is more common in rural areas, making this commercial persuasive because the speaker is also from a small town just like many users.  Also his description of his small town is the way many people who grow up in those environments think about their areas.  In my hometown in Wisconsin we always used to joke about towns being small if the local bar was across from the church because that was the only intersection.  “If you blink, you will miss it,” is a common description by those who live in small rural environments.

-JW Kieckhefer

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