GlaxoSmithKline's Nicorette holiday campaign encourages smokers to quit—with some celeb help

More than 30 million Americans continue to smoke despite knowing the dangers. GlaxoSmithKline’s Nicorette wants to help people quit with the aid of some shout-outs from celebrities who've kicked the habit.

Actor Rumer Willis, TV personality Ross Mathews and former NASCAR driver and returning spokesperson Dale Earnhardt Jr. are the stars at the center of GSK's "Start Stopping Shout Out." The national sweepstakes asks friends and family to nominate smokers they want to help quit for good, with the chance to win a personalized message of encouragement from one of the three spokespeople.

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“Instead of shaming people to quit smoking, it’s actually an opportunity to show love, show encouragement, show inspiration and empathy around how hard it is to quit smoking,” said Pam Remash, GSK consumer healthcare marketing director for U.S. smoker's health.

Mathews agreed the key is positive reinforcement.

“I’m excited that I’m able to give someone a little extra encouragement to help make this the year they quit for good,” he said via email.

Among smokers who have attempted to quit, 65% have tried three or four times. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t helping, with nearly a third of smokers admitting they now smoke even more despite the World Health Organization's warning that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease.

A recent Nicorette survey found that half of current smokers are anxious about quitting, and only 12% feel prepared to do so. With this year's holiday season expected to include more social distancing and less social interacting, GSK noted it will be even harder for smokers to get the support they need to quit. 

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The GSK contest is running Dec. 1-8, and, while it’s only one week long, Remash described the post-Thanksgiving time period as a “sweet spot” for gift-giving, tying into the campaign's idea of nominating someone for a chance to win.

Just one day after going live, the company had already exceeded its impression targets.

While the campaign is aimed at raising Nicorette brand awareness and has no overt push to buy, GSK's gain is letting people know "that we got them and we're there for them," Remash said.