Duncan Channon lets smokers know it’s ok to fail.


By thesanfranciscoegotist / /

With COVID-19 causing record numbers of people to attempt to quit smoking or vaping, the California Department of Public Health’s CA Tobacco Control Program is launching a new campaign that normalizes the reality that failing is part of the quitting journey, and encourages people to get help.

Created by Duncan Channon and directed and animated by Robertino Zambrano with Nexus Studios, the ‘Tell Your Story’ campaign ditches the age-old strategy of shaming smokers and instead shows compassion for the reality that smokers and vapers nearly never succeed in quitting on the first try, or even the tenth.

Led by a Duncan Channon creative team that includes former smokers, the agency spoke to more than 100 smokers and vapers about their unique stories of quitting—and failing along the way. The TV spots were born from 100% unscripted conversations with three real people—Steve, Ryan and George —and brought to life through animation.

“Our approach is all about reframing failed quit attempts as necessary forward progress in a smoker’s and vaper’s journey to quit nicotine for good,” said Anne Elisco-Lemme, executive creative director, Duncan Channon. “Smokers and vapers often feel a sense of defeat when their quit attempt fails, but it’s like building a muscle. Eventually, you get to where you want to be. This campaign is about normalizing that repeat process in an empathetic way,” said Anne Elisco-Lemme, executive creative director, Duncan Channon.

Agency: Duncan Channon


Anne Elisco-Lemme – Executive creative director

J. Moe – Associate director of creative technology, Senior art director

John Evans – Copywriter 


Kelleen Peckham – Strategy director

Jonah Kaufman – Brand strategist

Katherine Dean – Brand strategist


Kumi Croom – Director of agency collaboration + equity

Davis Wolfe – Account supervisor

Devin Hynes – Account supervisor, digital

Salem Weresh – Account manager

Bryan Moore – Senior project manager


Madelaine Robinson – Group director, communications planning

Sydney McDermott – Communications planning supervisor

River Crane – Communications planner

Katie Mansfield – Associate communications planner


Keenan Hemje – Senior broadcast producer

Emily Sarale – Associate producer

Shaz Kuerschner – Manager of studio and art production

Jess Shay – Print producer


Scott Whipple – Studio designer

Phat Trieu – Production artist

Cultural agency partners 




Production partners

Nexus Studios

Robertino Zambrano  – Director 

Fernanda Garcia Lopez- Producer 

Diana Angelius – Producer

Tina Braham –  Senior Producer 

Bamm Bamm Wolfgang – Music & Sound 

Adam Alexander – Composer & producer 

Andy Wright – Engineer at Soundfirm (Sydney, Australia) 

Musicians – 

Andy Horvath – Drums and Percussion for Steven 

Marc Malouf – Electric Guitars for George

Jake Meadows – Harp for Ryan 

Golden State Post

Matt Trivan – Senior Flame Artist

One Union – Radio Mix 

Matt Wood – Engineer 

Jaylen Block Smith – Executive Producer 

Michael Swarce – Assistant Engineer/Client Services 




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