“Left Swipe Dat”

From USAToday.com

Rachel Seo, Photojournalist

“Fact: You get double the matches if you’re not smoking in your profile pics.”

Thus says anti-smoking organization truth (yes, it’s purposely spelled in lowercase letters), which launched its new music video at the recent Grammys. Entitled “Left Swipe Dat,” the video is aimed at teenagers and young adults in the 18-34 demographic and uses terminology commonly tied to users of the dating app Tinder, in which participants view pictures of possible dates and “left swipe” the screen to reject the person or “right swipe” to like the person’s image and start a chat with him or her.

The video features YouTubers Anna Akana, Jimmy Tatro, and Grace Helbig, along with music artists Becky G and Fifth Harmony, who sing the 2-minute, 35-second long song. In essence, it’s simple: smoking isn’t attractive, and all of us deluded teenagers should “left swipe” anyone who thinks it is.

But to me, truth under-thought their marketing campaign. While people who have no intention of ever smoking may think this childish song is cute with a good message, the video most likely will not convince any smokers out of their habits. First of all, not all smokers are Tinder users. Tinder is popular, yes, but universally used by every smoker? Far from it.

Then there’s the whole underdeveloped message. Even if the generalized fact that truth states at the beginning of their video may be true, there’s a simple remedy to this: don’t smoke in your profile pictures.

Isn’t it common sense? If you actually believe that you get double the matches by not smoking, and if you’re a desperate enough person, just don’t smoke in your profile pictures. Smoke at school, work, in your car–just not in your profile pics or on your dates. It’s as simple as that. Technology makes it easy to lie.

Megan Milne (10) also makes another point, saying that “…If my friend already had a boyfriend or girlfriend this advertisement is useless to them.” Definitely true. While most likely there are “taken” people out there who have active Tinder accounts, what kind of decent girlfriend or boyfriend hunts down other hotter folk while he or she is still with someone?

If “Left Swipe Dat” helps with anything, it’s that Tinder will see a decrease in number of people who take pictures with cigarettes in their mouths, not that people will actually stop smoking. Truth is, most culturally literate people know that smoking is bad for you. We’ve all seen the commercials with the old people with the voice-boxes who regret ever smoking. The secondhand smoke one when airplane masks drop down from nowhere whenever a smoker is near.  The insanely creepy PSAs with the disgusting black swamp monsters that roll up in one piece of white paper. In Health class, we’ve all heard Mr. G tell us that there are over forty cancer-causing chemicals in cigarettes. The government does a great job of reminding us that smoking is bad for us and that we should all stop or never start at all.

But even beyond the fragile argument “Left Swipe Dat” makes–What is truth even implying about our culture here?

Its simplistic music video seems fun–Timothy DeLaGhetto riding unicorns, giant plates of onion rings. But underneath it all, is truth just trying to tell us that we should stop smoking only because it makes us look bad on our profile pics?

What about the detrimental things it does to one’s body? The pure selfishness involved when a smoker exposes others to secondhand smoke? Is our culture really so desensitized as to only care about how smoking makes us look, versus what it actually does? And what, exactly, made our society this way?

I could pin blame on several different sources, but in the end, only one thing remains: truth approached the issue of smoking the wrong way. It left too many open holes in the infrastructure of the ad–thinking that a few shiny pop stars and a bouncy tune would be enough to carry it through. The ad itself is like cotton candy–it’ll disintegrate within ten seconds of thought. It’s like these advertising executives naturally assumed that we won’t think, because hey, we’re a generation full of kids with short attention spans who’ll spend our parents’ money on anything that strikes our fancy. Nobody will be convinced to stop smoking through the ad unless he or she has some conviction about it prior to viewing it. Instead of giving us zombie rations to feed on, give us something to mull over in our minds.

I’m not asking for another scare-tactic commercial. However, I am asking everyone–all the campaigners, marketers, humanity–to treat young adults like the future generation we can be. We are the future generation whether any of us like it or not, so we needed to be treated as such. Smoking is not a joking matter–people die from it every year–and it should not be treated like a “Left Swipe Dat.” Sure, some people may only care about how smoking looks in their profile pictures, but those ideas are only promoted by ads like these that are supposed to be “relatable” to the common era.

Give us something to think about, to mull over. The decision to stop smoking will not come from a two-minute music video. It’ll come from a campaign that gradually challenges and grows.

I’m fairly certain that nobody will feel challenged by “Left Swipe Dat.” If anything, the video’s basically an ad for Tinder. Hey, Becky G’s cool and she obviously has Tinder, so let’s all get it, guys!