#UQuitIQuit - Making India Quit Smoking


Nicotex – the market leading Nicotine Replacement Therapy brand from Cipla - was being launched nationally as an over the counter product. 

120 million Indians smoke, and 900,000 Indians die of smoking related causes. Nicotex wanted to galvanise India for its mission of “A Smoking Free” India via a mass consumer movement.  

The Government of India has tried for years to convince the country’s smokers to quit. Millions of dollars and billions of health-related advertising impressions later, the number of smokers continued to rise year after year.  

Smokers start smoking by sharing a cigarette with someone they trust, usually a good friend. This is the paradox: while anti-cigarette advertising in India had been focusing on the consequences of smoking, it had ignored smoking’s appeal – smoking starts off as a social activity. In most cases, your first cigarette is never bought by you, but one that is shared by your friend. 

Quitting, however, is always lonely.  

If people start smoking because it is cool and fashionable, how could Nicotex make quitting fashionable? 

Many smokers say that quitting is the hardest thing they have ever done in their life. Quitting requires determination, patience, and perseverance. But it also requires the support of family, friends, and people around you.  

Unfortunately, most people don’t feel comfortable seeking support from their networks, which is why many don’t make it through. This insight formed the backbone of a consumer movement to help India quit smoking. 

It wanted to help India’s smokers quit and they knew the task would be easier if they knew they weren’t going alone. So the agency focused on smoking’s appeal and decided to make quitting a social activity.  

Introducing the #UQuitIQuit campaign.  


To make quitting social, agency mSix involved not just the smoker; but also a well-wisher. The well-wisher, who may or may not also be a smoker, would volunteer to quit a bad habit in exchange for the smoker quitting smoking –#UQuitIQuit. The strategy was further reinforced around the following cornerstones:- 

1. Provide an alternate mechanism to address the smoker’s craving. This was done with an app and a responsive website which would keep the smoker engaged in moments of his craving.  

2. Make quitting cool and amplify the emotion of quitting: The two and a half month long Indian Super League (ISL) offered a very high reach of over 140 million predominantly male, and sustained for two and half months – long enough to influence consumer behavior. This provided massive scale for amplification. 

3. Build empathy for the cause: It got the ISL to co-opt the “Quit Smoking” cause for the league, and this resulted in the brand signing up eight celebrities representing each of the eight ISL teams who would create a “league within a league” of quitting smoking. The ISL gave a strong footprint on ground, through on air and online, with also celebrity players coming in to join the cause. 

4. Make quitting seem possible through influencers, native messaging and partnership: The journey of the eight anchor celebrities was amplified through a tiered influencer plan who would spread the social buzz around the movement; and messaging relevant to quitting smoking was seeded with native content. The brand also entered into a marketing partnership with a leading news channel and the most popular radio station, who would create quitting programmes of their own. 


Each and every element of the POE Ecosystem was leveraged to its optimal, with the medium being effectively used to drive the message.  

In the live telecast – both on broadcaster Star Sports as well as online on hotstar.com, the eight celebrities which Nicotex signed up exhorted the supporters of their city to sign up via their own social pages, creating a smoking quitting league within the football league. The scale of celebrities was massive, and included famous cancer survivors, Olympic medallists, India’s ex-football captain, famous photographers and movie celebrities.  

On the social pages of celebrities: Over 100+ videos featuring these celebrities were turned out to drive support via the celebrity and Nicotex social handles. 

On the host broadcasters: Nicotex created custom branding elements such as a “Quit-O-Meter” kept a track of how many quitters had been enrolled for each side; besides the perimeter branding and graphics. Nicotex leveraged the activity via the 140 million TV audience, and also an opportunity to sample to the over one million predominantly male ground audience at ISL through on-ground kiosks.  

On ground: With the “no-smoking “signs in the ground being transformed into “#UQuitIQuit”, the agency transformed an ISL sponsorship into Nicotex branded content. 

Owned Assets such as a movement website and a mobile app continuously sustained the buzz. 

Effective usage of partnerships: News channel NewsX had a content series over three weeks, where quitters and anchors participated. On Red FM, across five markets on radio, RJs exhorted its listeners to join quitting journey.   


While driving brand sales & buzz through #UQuitIQuit was the communication goal of the integrated multi-media campaign, the agency had set a higher order yardstick. It wished to bring quitting to the forefront, and get Nicotex to benefit from the action. 

 11.2 million campaign reach 
 449 million impressions 
 72,400+ social conversations – the buzziest cause led, brand supported social campaign of 2015; and 45% more than the equivalent biggest social media campaign of the previous year. 
 3X growth in search. An unprecedented number. 

Brand results within six months of launch: 
 Nicotex sales up 2X across markets 
 TOM Awareness: 60%, total awareness at 80%+  
 33% name Nicotex Most Used Brand 
 As per a Millward Brown Study, people exposed to the campaign were 5 times more likely to quit than those not. 

What is most gratifying is that Nicotex has created a long-term platform for quitting that’s already helped half a million Indians to quit and aims to triple this count over the next year.

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