3 Ways Donald Trump’s 2006 Anti-Smoking PSA Predicted His Campaign

3 Ways Donald Trump’s 2006 Anti-Smoking PSA Predicted His Campaign

In 2006, Donald Trump made a “The More You Know” ad telling kids not to smoke. Started in 1989, these NBC public service announcements were a staple of ’90s TV, known by their celebrity appearances, short memorable jingle, and cheesy shooting star graphic.

Several former presidents have done “The More You Know Ads,” as well as celebrities as varied as Jason Alexander, Candace Cameron Bure, LL Cool J, and The Pink Power Ranger (okay, her name is Amy Jo Johnson). The Donald’s addition to the oeuvre does not disappoint.

In fact, it’s a pretty good preview of his presidential campaign.

1. Thorough Celebrity

Perhaps more than PSAs, “The More You Know” ads are a signifier of celebrity. This was no everyday-heroes kind of campaign, but a campaign from the elites to the people.

Trump was so thoroughly famous that he was a) invited to do a PSA and b) despite all his many public foibles, considered an appropriate messenger to children, specifically, at whom the ads are targeted.

It makes one wonder that celebrities, in particular, are so surprised the American people accepted and celebrated Trump, given the entertainment industry has been accepting and celebrating him for years.

2. Simple, Entertaining Message

“Smoking sucks…the air right outta your lungs.” The ham-handed play on words, the dash of coarseness that immediately grabs your attention, and a simple message. You might hate it, but you’re not confused and you’re not looking away.

3. Singular Delivery

That pinched-finger curtain-pull hand gesture is delivered with a raised chin everyone else in Hollywood eschews as the least friendly of angles. But Trump is undeterred. It’s 10 seconds of Trump, but he had already become such a consistent, concentrated version of himself, it’s all there.

About lungs, he says, “You’re gonna need them for the rest of your life. Don’t smoke. It kills.”

Make lungs great again, you might say.

Mary Katharine Ham is a CNN contributor.
Photo a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6BPnDAw6fQ&feature=youtu.be" NBC / The More You Know
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