The Little Lungs campaign is back, and it’s as cheerfully grotesque as ever!
To refresh your memory: Back in 2017, Hornet Director Peter Sluszka first introduced “Little Lungs in a Great Big World” with the creation of five films for the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. As part of the broader campaign by FCB NY called “The Real Cost,” the films were designed to cut through the clutter and educate teens about the harmful effects of smoking and to do so in a fresh, slightly irreverent, oddball way.
In terms of “slightly irreverent, oddball” humor, there isn’t a director in the world more suited to the challenge than Peter Sluszka. The films became a resounding success. They were screened at Annecy Animation Festival that year and have since been aired at major events like The X Games and garnered tens of millions of views on YouTube.
Now Little Lungs—the anthropomorphic character that "smoked as a teen and never grew to normal size"—is back. And this time, he's joined by a star-studded cast of celebrities including Terry Crews, Tony Hawk, and Sky Katz. In each spot, these celebs try to help Little Lungs do what they do—from action stunts to singing & performing—and each time, because of his stunted lungs, he falls short in some hilariously gruesome way.
As far as technique goes, the films are made using “straight-up stop motion” according to Peter. He elaborates: “The physicality of stop motion adds a real visceral quality about the harm that can be done. A physical object being impacted by its environment really shows that those actions have consequences. It strikes the right formula between humorous and gruesome for a notoriously fickle age group."
James Meiser, Associate Creative Director at FCB New York, adds this: "It was a pleasure to work with Peter Sluzska and Hornet again on a new set of Little Lungs spots. I can’t imagine a better set of creative partners. Our work for The Real Cost is all about making our audience feel the consequences of smoking. In order to do that, we needed to make Little Lungs’ demise feel visceral, which made stop motion animation the clear choice for the project. There’s a tactile feeling you get from seeing a character made out of real material squished and burned and sliced and diced and run over by a train. There’s a physicality to it that’s really special, especially when it’s in the hands of expert animators. Seeing five b-boy lung puppets come to life in a dance routine is one of the great joys of my career."
Another key thing to mention in terms of reaching that fickle age group is the use of celebrity voices. According to Peter, this was “a nice evolution of the campaign.” To be able to bring in the influence and aura of people like Tony and Terry and Sky, who’ve reached the highest echelons of their fields, makes a real impact. To show what they've accomplished in professional sports and entertainment because of their decisions to avoid smoking cigarettes as teenagers, helps kids better understand what they might be able to accomplish if they make similar such choices. (Not to mention, it’s pretty hilarious to see a pair of lungs in the image of Terry Crews with washboard abs and a goatee!)
In the end, the fate that befalls the Little Lungs character in each film is often devastating. And the irreverent delivery of the message? Devastatingly effective.
To view all of the "Famous Lungs" films, check out the project page.