New Year’s resolutions are easy to make, but difficult to keep. The first of January rolls around every year full of promise for the year ahead. This is the year that you’ll lose weight/move to a new house/quit smoking. As the month draws on, many of these good intentions fall by the wayside.

Apotek Hjärtat, a Swedish pharmacy, wants to encourage people to keep their resolutions with an interactive billboard. Subtler than some recent anti-smoking campaigns (there aren’t any images of gory body parts), agency Akestam Holst created an interactive billboard in Sweden that coughs every time it senses someone smoking nearby. A reminder of the effect of those smoking around you.

Using similar technology that won Akestam Holst a Graphite Pencil in the 2015 D&AD Professional awards for a reactive subway poster that made a model’s hair blow in the wind, these sensors are now using their powers for good.

The billboard, which is situated in Stockholm, is filmed over the course of the campaign with smokers displaying a range of reactions when they hear the coughing and realize where it is coming from. In the video explaining the concept, the coughing actor explains how the pharmacy hopes to inspire smokers to quit this New Year, “Our mission is to help you live a longer and healthier life,” he says. “That’s why I’m here, to help you get new, healthier habits.”

The advert ends with a photo of products that help smokers quit, such as nicotine patches and gum. It isn’t filled with shock tactics, but the technology behind it will hopefully make this a talking point that leads to making healthier decisions.


Campaign: “The Coughing Billboard”

Brand: Apotek Hjärtat

Agency: Akestam Holst