Revival of ‘iconic’ Scottish anti-smoking advert stuns creator

Anti-smoking advert featuring fictional girlband Stinx goes viral on social media.

Revival of ‘iconic’ Scottish anti-smoking advert stuns creator Contributed

The creator of an “iconic” Scottish anti-smoking advert has told of his surprise after it became a social media hit 21 years later.

Featuring the fictional girlband Stinx, the lyrics to ‘Why Do You Keep On Running Boy?’ tried to show young girls that it’s not attractive to smoke.

Scenes showed men running away from the cigarette-clutching crooners as they struggled to keep up through clouds of smoke.

The song – with lines such as ‘I wish you’d stop, cause I’m so out of breath’ – was so catchy that it was released as a single and reached number eight in the Scottish charts.

Now, after being discovered by a new generation, the video is racking up views and shares across various social media platforms.

John McLaughlin, who produced the advert alongside Chris Watson and Gordon Goudy, told STV News he had found the revival “so bizarre”.

“I am terrible with social media, I’m rubbish with it all, but my daughter phoned me and said ‘dad, it’s all blown up on TikTok’,” he said.

“It’s so bizarre, it’s so bizarre. We wrote it in the 90s for a campaign for HEBS (Health Education Board for Scotland) and obviously it was to be tongue in cheek.

“Instead of telling the kids ‘don’t smoke, it’s bad’, we thought we would make it kind of funny in a Britney Spears kind of pastiche.”

The advert was credited with cutting the number of young smokers and a survey at the time found that it had made 90 per cent of teenagers “think about their health”.

McLaughlin has worked with the likes of Westlife, McFly and Simple Minds – but feels destined to be remembered for the advert.

“I’m thinking ’haud the bus, a record we made for an anti-smoking campaign in the 90s has gone viral?’,” he said.

“We’re working with Rod Stewart, Shane McGowan, Echo and the Bunnymen, but naw, it’s a smoking campaign in the 90s that we’re famous for, but hey, we’ll take whatever comes our way.

“That’s the nature of the music business – you can work hard at things and it’s the weirdest things that take off.”

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