The Real Cost

How to increase local communities’ reporting on sales of illegal tobacco?

That is the challenge authorities face time after time. And that was the brief the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership wants us to crack.

Illegal Tobacco is insidious. It seeps through the legal system, too many times being sold under the counter in legal stores. Brings crime into our neighbourhoods. Helps fund the drug trade and human trafficking. And with its availability and lower cost, gets kids hooked on smoking.

To make the campaign more hard-hitting and increase Social Media sharing, we wanted our story to be not only direct and clear, but also emotionally insidious. 

Thus, we took a widely held belief (Illegal tobacco is cheap/er) and flipped it around. Through a gritty narrative, we showed that the real cost of the crime-ridden journey of illegal tobacco is anything but cheap to our communities, and especially to our kids. 

The integrated campaign ran under the KEEP IT OUT banner, and included online video, OOH, social media and radio.


600% direct increase in intelligence reports during the campaign period. 

20% drop in purchases of illegal tobacco (long-term).

8% increase in general awareness of illegal tobacco (long-term).

55% increase in non-smokers seeing the issue as important (long-term).

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