Cannes Lions

In The Moment

PHD, Toronto / GLAXO SMITH-KLINE / 2018

Presentation Image
Case Film






Our strategy was driven by 4 core insights:

1. Smokers don’t “publicize” the fact that they’re smokers. They are a diverse and nondescript group, whose media behaviour doesn’t reveal their vice, making them notoriously difficult to target.

2. Smoking cessation messaging is most relevant in-the-moment, when nicotine cravings strike.

3. Category messaging has long been focused on “quitting”, and is largely ignored by smokers. To resonate with them, a new approach was needed.

4. Smokers often experience a fear of missing out, or “FOMO”. They are compelled to satisfy their cravings, but want to stay in-the-moment in social situations with friends and family.

The key to driving education and consideration of Thrive would be to not only specifically target smokers and reach them when cravings were top of mind, but also to speak to them in a new and more relevant way that addressed their FOMO.


Partnering with Canada’s leading mobile technology provider, we developed a first-of-its-kind campaign using artificial intelligence to analyze social media triggers and geo-location data to provide real-time, intent-based targeting:

1. Analyzing social media posts across top platforms, we targeted consumers in conversations involving: smoking, cigarette breaks, needing a smoke, and competitive brands.

2. Compiling visitation pattern data of real-world locations, we geo-targeted venues where people traditionally smoke, such as bars/nightclubs, concerts and sports arenas.

3. In a first-to-market execution, we used image recognition technology to target via photos uploaded to social media, reaching consumers posting pictures of themselves smoking or holding a cigarette, as well as in social situations often associated with smoking, such as at a bar, a group dinner, or with a drink in hand.

This approach enabled us to hyper-target smokers, and reach during periods of peak message relevance – in social situations with friends and family.


Our data-driven approach was extremely successful in taking advantage of new technologies to deliver on-target messaging in highly relevant situations.

Leveraging proprietary AI technology was not only a category first, but our use of image recognition targeting was a first-to-market execution. Identifying and targeting smokers via their social conversations, photos, and real-world hangouts, allowed us to effectively drive consideration for Thrive by driving to the website for product education.

Results exceeded all expectations, with the campaign delivering a 31% lift in brand engagement, an 18% increase in CTR, over 230,000 qualified smokers to the Thrive website, and a 5% increase in consideration . . . all of which contributed to a 5.4% year-over-year growth in sales.

Similar Campaigns

12 items

"Walk a While in Their Shoes" Campaign


"Walk a While in Their Shoes" Campaign


(opens in a new tab)