POST B: Everybody Knows

POST B: Everybody Knows (2008)

I vividly remember this campaign when I was in primary school. As an 8 year old seeing grotesque images of diseased feet and infected lungs after the 6 o’clock news if was pretty confronting. I remember the discussions we had in class about the ad and how the effects of nicotine and smoking tar and how this formulated my strong negative opinions about smoking.

Analysing the campaign from a mature perspective I can see the genius in it. The campaign was formulated by the Cancer Institute of NSW and was a montage of previous campaigns – an effective move considering the imagery was already widely known through previous QUIT campaigns. The message was spread over 2 mediums, a 60 second television ad consisting of imagery of smokers who had developed diseases as a result, and a 30 second radio ad. The television ad was aired during the coverage of the Beijing Olympics due to the fact that “TV viewership goes up 40% during the Olympics” said Verity Firth (NSW Assistant Health Minister). 

The ad had one of the highest effectiveness ratings (6.90 out of 10) and had the greatest proportion of smokers saying that the ad made them worry about their smoking (77%) and stop and think (80%).

The influx of Anti Smoking material put out in the late 2000s can be attributed to the returning of funding to the area. In May 2005 when the federal treasurer announced that a campaign to tackle youth smoking would be handsomely funded it laid the foundations for the campaigns we see today. It was found that mass media campaigns worked the best and were the most cost effective of the tested. This increase in funding to the QUITLINE and the Cancer institute assisted in developing campaigns that were harder hitting and more effective. 

Like all campaigns from the Cancer Institute it was followed and evaluated, one of the powerful ideas that came from the campaign was that “The delivery of the information also had the capacity to act like a message that was coming from within rather than being authoritarian”. Throughout the ad the Leonard Cohen song Everybody Knows plays aswell as text flashing on the screen, these read:

  • Everybody knows smoking causes all these diseases
  • But you still smoke
  • Maybe you do need to break your habit

I think that these are very powerful and this strategy has been used in following campaigns such as the “Don’t make mokes your story” (2018).  I think that this use of graphic imagery juxtaposed with a very personal message is highly effective and when introduced at the same time as plain packaging such as in Australia it makes for a hard hitting campaign.


Cotter, T, & Hill, D. (2008). Australian Anti-smoking Campaigns. Of Substance: The National Magazine on Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs, 6(1), 26–27.

Fenely, R. 2008, ‘Games Viewers get shocking anti smoking ad’ Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August, Viewed 20th November 2019, <>

Guillaumier, A., Bonevski, B., & Paul, C. (2015). Tobacco health warning messages on plain cigarette packs and in television campaigns: a qualitative study with Australian socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers. Health Education Research, 30(1), 57–66.


Still from “Everybody Knows” 2008 NSW Cancer Council

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s