Every day I come into the office past people smoking on the pavement.
I pop out at lunchtime and people are standing in the rain, smoking.
I go home at night, past groups of people outside pubs.
Freezing and smoking.
How can smoking like that be any fun?
When I used to smoke, you could smoke anywhere.
Upstairs on buses, upstairs in the cinema, in the office, in the pub, in restaurants, in shops.
Every other carriage on the tube was for smoking.
I used to smoke about 60 a day.
That wasn’t considered a heavy smoker.
Stanley Pollitt was heavy smoker, he smoked 100 a day.
I used to light the first one up before I got out of bed in the morning.
And stub the last one out in bed at night.
Just like everyone else.
When I was typing, I usually lit the next cigarette up from the previous one.
It seems excessive now.
But that’s because fewer and fewer people smoke.
When everyone does it, no one notices it.
I started smoking like most schoolboys.
We thought it was macho.
But the truth was it was the opposite.
I was so short of breath I couldn’t even run away, let alone fight.
So I decided to quit.
I looked at it like any advertising problem.
Most advertising fails because no one bothers working what the real problem is before they start.
They just blindly assume that running any advertising will increase sales.
That’s why 90% of advertising fails.
It was also why 90% of attempts to stop smoking didn’t work.
No one bothers working out the real problem before they start.
So I thought, let’s approach it creatively.
Let’s see where I can actually be most effective.
I can’t give up 60 a day just like that.
I’m too addicted.
But maybe I could transfer the addiction to something easier to give up.
I still needed the nicotine hit.
So I figured, let’s switch to other sources of nicotine.
Cigars, a pipe, chewing-tobacco, snuff.
First I’ll reduce my dependence on the actual, physical cigarette.
Then I can cut down my dependence on nicotine itself.
And it worked.
I couldn’t smoke as many cigars (or as much pipe) as I had cigarettes.
After a week, I got fed up smoking a pipe, so I stopped.
After a month I was getting fed up smoking cigars.
And gradually, naturally, my dependence on nicotine cut itself down.
And after a couple of months, I’d stopped smoking totally.
What had seemed like a massive problem got resolved bit by bit.
Just like advertising.
Don’t expect an ad campaign to do the entire sales job on its own.
From factory to consumer.
But by working out what small part advertising can actually effect.
And how that part can influence the whole.
What’s the pressure point?
Years ago I used to study Kung Fu.
One of the things that impressed me was ‘pressure-points’.
You may have an opponent that is bigger and stronger than you.
If you simply go head-to-head with them you’ll lose.
But there is a pressure-point just below the inverted V in the ribcage.
If you can strike here with your knuckle, they will collapse.
You don’t have to oppose their strength, you can remove it.
This is the sort of pressure point advertising should always be looking for.
The knock-on effect.
You don’t have to knock all the dominoes over.
Just find the first one and knock that over.
As Henry Ford said, “No problem is too big if you break it down into small enough pieces.”