If you want to stop smoking, try carrots instead


For a long while the debate has raged: “is it more effective to incentivise or to punish?”

I fondly remember Rory Sutherland’s TED talk arguing the effectiveness of the ‘thank you for not speeding’ signs with a smiley face rather than a punishing speed camera. So when we were approached by NHS Greater Manchester’s Health & Social Care Partnership to test whether rewards could help improve the cessation rates within their “Making Smoking History” programme, I was optimistic.

Could rewards be more powerful than threats in inspiring people to ‘break the habit’?

Working alongside our talented Head of Design Andie Norris and the wider team led by our Head of Account Management Richard Hilton, we set about creating a Quit Kit that employed both soft incentives including a branded fidget spinner, fridge magnets and a cessation calendar, along with stickers to help the willing mark their progress. This was mixed with ‘hard’ incentives to celebrate weekly milestones along the way – free movies, mindfulness and music streaming plus discounted vape kits – and culminating in an online fitness course, giving the new non-smokers a chance to test their new and improved health.

Designed in optimistic orange and cheerfully illustrated to support the existing ‘You Can!’ branding, the campaign comprised of the pack and a promotional website which was amplified by social media…all using the line “Just add willpower’.

All 500 packs were claimed within hours of being available and we hope for all the recipients and for our clients that Rory’s theory of carrot over stick proves to be right!

This article is written by Rob Scott Creative Director at TLC