Ninteen-ninety eight was the height of the
dot com age. The internet was hot and
everybody wanted a piece of it.
The problem was that nobody understood what
shape or form the internet was going to
develop into. So, everybody tried to be all
things to all people.
Jack-of-all-trades and master of none was
the common business model. Internet portals
was the name used to described these sites.
These portals would try to give you your email,
the weather, stock information, news, and
even fashion tips all at the same time.
And doing none of it really good. In an effort
to appeal to the greatest amount of people
Meanwhile there was this tiny company in
California who decided they would focus on
one seemingly insignificant thing, search.
And they succeeded you may have heard of
them – Google.
Around the same time another company decided
they would become really good at selling
books online. – Amazon.com
Over time you could have an email account
at AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail; if you wanted to
download videos or pictures you had a pick
of a number of different sites.
But if you wanted to buy a book online the
only best choice was Amazon.com and if you
wanted to search for something the “best”
search engine was Google.
Today these two companies are thriving and
the ones that were trying to appeal to
everybody at once are not doing so good.
Similarly anti-smoking mass media campaigns
tend to focus on a messages that has the
widest appeal. But unfortunately the least
As we see from the example of the internet
companies in the late nineties being all things
to all people is not so smart. Instead, focusing
on a specific segment of the population and
doing for them what nobody else can is the smartest
thing to do.
According to the Center for Disease Control 20% of
Americans 25 years of age older smoke (approximately
50 million people). Of those smokers a figure between
30-40% try to quit each year.
If the aim of the anti-smoking ads are to get
smokers to take action and quit smoking, then
these ads should probably focus on identifying
and helping those smokers who are ready to
quit right now.
Spending time and money trying to convince the
majority of smokers who at the time do not want
to or are not ready to quit is a waste.
A more focused campaign would without a doubt be
more effective or would at least focus on helping
the ones who want the help.
Source: Health, United States, 2007, Table 63
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