Commercial uses sharp scalpel to make point about smoking
LEESBURG -- Surgeons dance around a patient on an operating table and sing about the merits of losing a diseased lung while a snappy Broadway-style tune rings though the air.
Itâ€™s a bizarre scene -- especially in the morgue at the Medical Examinerâ€™s Office in Lake County -- but itâ€™s just another day for the "Truth" anti-smoking media campaign as an upcoming commercial was filmed Wednesday. The one-minute commercial, organized by the Florida Department of Health, will begin airing this summer across the state. The production -- in customary "Truth" fashion -- takes a big-time jab at cigarette companies it claims have geared their advertising toward teens.
"This project has helped to drop teensâ€™ smoking by almost fifty percent," said Department of Health spokesman Frank Penela. "They have been very successful."
Film crews worked early Wednesday to convert the morgue into a mock operating room. The vehicle bay outside was transformed into an emergency room.
Add some dancers, a patient, music, and paramedics and ambulances provided by Lake-Sumter EMS and the scene is set, courtesy of Miami-based advertising firm Crispin, Porter & Boguksy.
"Truth" is widely recognized for its shocking but popular ads against smoking that frequently target how tobacco companies market cigarettes. The Leesburg scene is part of a dance number in which teens are kicked out of a tobacco headquarters -- actually an office building in downtown Orlando -- and imagine positive aspects of smoking.
The snappy tune "Focus on the Positive" includes bunches of one-liners such as: "So what if they remove a lung, you shouldnâ€™t be depressed. Itâ€™s really for the best."
The music was composed four weeks ago in New York with help from Tony Award-nominated composer David Yazbek. Crews will wrap up filming in Leesburg today.
Panela said the Orlando area was a prime spot to film the commercial because of a growing availability of talent and production companies here. The cost also is cheaper.
Medical Examiner Dr. Valerie Rao said she was very excited to allow "Truth" to use the morgue. "The way I see it, this is a way to make Lake County shine," Rao said. "Plus, it is a worthwhile cause."
Robert Sargent Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or 352-742-5909.
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