Organisers of an anti-tobacco television commercial have been left breathless by its surprise success, reports Lorna MacLaren

the lyrics

Why Do You On Keep Running Boy?

What do you say boy

Fancy getting jiggy?

Say what's the problem boy

The smell of my ciggy?

I watch you there boy

I want to hold you close.

Is it my breath

Or my hair and stinky clothes?

You disappear right out of sight

When I say, have you got a light?

Why do you keep on running boy?

Can't run so fast, got a pain

in my chest


Why do you keep on running boy?

I wish you'd stop, cause I'm so out

of breath.

(Words by Chris Watson)

AN impossibly catchy song

featured in a television anti-

smoking commercial has become the surprise underground hit of 2001. Three glossy pop princesses croon plaintively ''Why do you keep on running boy?'', hair duly flicked and hips wiggling as smoothly as the goddess Britney.

However, tendrils of cigarette smoke surround our nicotine-stained heroines who

feature as fictional band Stinx. The girls may be glamorous but the boys don't fancy them.

Crafted in the style of a Spice Girls promo, complete with exotic locations and dance routines, the advertisement has, in a few short weeks, become so popular its bemused backers at The Health Education Board for Scotland (Hebs) are considering releasing the song on CD.

Frantic young fans are desperately downloading the 60-second version of the ad from the Hebs website, while others are phoning to demand when a single will be available.

Bosses at Hebs say it is the most popular yet in their series of Just Think About It

commercials which in the past three years have aimed to tap into youth culture and

convey safe sex, and anti drugs, drink, and smoking messages.

It is certainly the most expensive effort to date, costing #340,000 compared to the more usual #200,000.

Other memorable Hebs offerings have included ''Blue Sticks'' the Dr Seuss-

style cartoon where one brave individual admits that smoking tastes ''boggin'' and then there's the anti-heroin episode where a split screen device shows the drastic

contrasts of a teenage boy's life with, and without, drugs.

But none have had quite the impact of Stinx, featuring the faces of models Tonya Williams, Cordellia Hylton, and Ana Little, and the voices of session singers Lesley I'Anson and Natalie Allen. The reluctant ''Pete Waterman'' who penned the words to the song, as well as the concept for the video, is Chris Watson, a copywriter from The Bridge advertising agency in Glasgow. Established songsmiths John McLaughlin and Gordon Goudy who have worked with the likes of Simple Minds and Victoria Beckham are responsible for the music.

The video itself, filmed mainly on a South African beach, was directed by Katie Bell, chosen specifically for her experience with pop promos. She has worked with Atomic Kitten, Billie, Boyzone, and The Honeyz to name a few.

But are youngsters really listening to the ironic lyrics, which claim that smoking makes you smell, as well as appear

downright unattractive to the opposite sex? Or have they just been swept away by the slick look of the piece and the authentic girl-band sound?

Martin Raymond, head of public affairs at Hebs, is confident that the popularity of the campaign proves the serious message is

getting across.

He says: ''We have had a phenomenal response to this latest campaign but the feedback received from focus groups as well as through e-mails and calls from teenagers leaves us in no doubt that young people know exactly the message we are sending out with the Stinx video. We have quite deliberately stolen a genre used by advertisers to sell concepts and products including alcohol promotion to young people. It proves we can grab their attention too - for positive aims.''

The advertisements will be placed in

cinemas from next week.

Meanwhile, the three young women

featured in Stinx are enjoying their new-found stardom.

Tonya Williams, 24, the blonde ''band member'' took part in a London audition session similar to those seen in the current LWT series Popstars which is trawling the UK

for fresh-faced musical talent. Tonya joined a group of around 150 girls which was

whittled down to eight before the final three were chosen.

The Edinburgh-born model is delighted by the popularity of the ad - even though

she missed out on appearing in a Robbie Williams video to take part.

''I got to be the star rather than just a backing girl in Robbie's video,'' she laughs.

''For the audition we had to sing a Britney Spears song to camera and show that we could dance. I was delighted to get the part. It is also good to be associated with something sending out a positive message. Kids seem to love the quirky lyrics. The video shoot was fantastic and we were treated like a real band all the way through, having our own bodyguards and trainers. It's given me a taste for stardom.''

Copywriter and newfound lyricist Chris Watson is the starmaker of the project and is as stunned as everyone else by its huge

success, but he has no plans to break into the music business.

''I don't think there's much danger of me becoming the next John Lennon but I like the idea that kids are singing the song in playgrounds. The advertising agency I work for handles the Hebs Think About It campaign. I set out to use images young people enjoy. We didn't want to create a spoof or mickey-take as it would seem patronising. We wanted to capture viewers' attention and put a spin on their expectations. People may not even twig first time what it's all about but then they notice the lads in the video are running away from the singers. It's important to get across that cigarettes make you smell and can turn off the opposite sex.''

He adds: ''It's aimed at young girls who apparently are still taking up smoking in large amounts but I think boys will get the message, too.''

The voices behind the song were recorded at Farm studios in Houston, Renfrewshire, and the piece produced by the company Room 402.

Singer Lesley I'Anson, 21, has plans of becoming a solo performer herself but

doesn't mind the fact her face is not in the video. ''It's great exposure for me. Anything that gets your work in the public domain is great - and even better that it is for such a worthy campaign.''

One of the management team at Room 402, Gerry McManus, is exploring with Hebs the possibility of releasing the

song. ''It could be done as a giveaway

rather than a paid-for single,'' he says. ''We are happy to advise Hebs on how to take their plans forward.''

Video director Katie Bell adds that care would have to be taken in keeping the anti-smoking message prominent.

''The visuals are very important and powerful in that the girls are holding cigarettes as they sing. I can't see Top of the Pops allowing this, but it would be vital to ensure the glamour of the girls and the serious message were properly balanced.''

Meanwhile, back at Hebs, Martin Raymond admitted the difficulties in finding an effective way of

reaching young people, especially, he said, while considering concerns of parents and youth organisations.

''If you look back over 10 years you will see past campaigns seem very old-fashioned and are done in a preaching tone. It is important young people like what we do but our main aim is still to get health issues into their culture. The Think About It project allows them to con-

sider the options themselves as young adults.''

''Research has shown that young women in particular perceive smoking as something adult and sexy so we had to challenge that.

''As for the Stinx girls resurfacing? They have been so popular, who knows. Watch this space.''