Stoptober's lead up nationwide tour kicked off yesterday in Kaitaia with a Stoptober recruitment event, in a campaign targeting New Zealand's 463,000 smokers to quit the habit with a smokefree October, by signing up to www.stoptobernz.co.nz. Evidence shows that if you stop smoking for a month, you're five times more likely to quit, and staying smokefree is easier if you have support.
The campaign was heralded with a TVC (less fearful and more feel-good, for an anti-smoking ad) filmed and produced by Satellite Media.
"The core idea was based on the Stoptober campaign in the UK [which last year saw 250,000 people quit smoking]," says Satellite Media head of TV, Sarah Kinniburgh. "The brief was that the core visual idea was still the red ball, but ultimately it would have more of a New Zealand character, and feature a cross section of New Zealand society."
She says to inject that difference, they had to have someone driving the ad instead of it being generic, so Piri Weepu came on board. She says the campaign was fun, but not without logistical challenges. A ball prone to being punctured had to be rolled around a beach, a Piha campsite, and a Mangere Bridge farm. There were many scenes. A lot of people had to push the ball.
"But Piri is always up for it, he's great to work with. The scene in Wynyard Quarter was a lot of fun," she says.
The campaign involves the TVC, radio, digital and a national tour, and aims to drive people to the website (developed by Frazer Cameron at the Radio Network) to sign up by the time October rolls around. Participants will received support for 31 days with either a free mobile app with support in Te Reo and English, regular texts or daily email support. Shonagh Lindsay, Stoptober campaign coordinator, says she are starting to see a lot of activity on the website with over 2000 unique visitors in the first few days.
The Stoptober inflated ball will literally roll through a string of towns with 54 events featuring Kiwi personalities throughout September. Local DHBs have been charged with organising the events, roping in celebrities and local personalities such as mayors or regional rugby players. Yesterday Kaitaia began the event with a karakia and unveiling of a tribute mural painted by local school pupils for Matua Graham (a Stop Smoking advocate who passed away a year ago), New Zealander of the Year Lance O'Sullivan gave a speech, there was a kapahaka performance and 17 signups were taken for the website.
The ball will reach Whangarei on Friday, then hit Mangere in Auckland on Saturday with rapper Sid Diamond performing alongside. It will eventually finish in Invercargill.
The campaign is being funded by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Inspiring Limited. It's paid for out of round one of the Government's Pathway to Smokefree 2025 Innovation Fund which in total is $5 million a year. Stoptober's share is worth up to $2,257,000 over three years, according to the Ministry of Health's website. ASH says the aim is to have 46,300 New Zealanders, or 10 per cent of the country’s smoking population, signed up, and 4630 of them still not smoking three months later.
Dr Mark Peterson, chairman of New Zealand Medical Association, says in a release that smoking is still the biggest cause of premature death in New Zealand, taking 5,000 lives each year. “The latest census showed that 15 percent of New Zealanders still smoke and Stoptober is an excellent opportunity to quit for good with the increased support and knowing that you’re not on your own."