The Cigarette That Saved Lives | DNA Project



This controversial TV ad, conceptualised by FoxP2 and directed by Egg Films’ Bruno Bossi, is called The Cigarette That Saved Lives, and is raising awareness for non-profit organisation The DNA Project. The organisation, founded by Vanessa Lynch, works to raise crime scene awareness and support for fighting crime with science.


Vanessa started The DNA project after her father’s murderers went free because DNA evidence left at the crime scene was discarded, destroyed and not properly collected.  In South Africa, the National DNA Database only has about 133 000 DNA profiles and there are only two South African Police Services labs that can perform DNA profiling on forensic samples.


The ad is currently getting recognition on a host of international advertising sites. Vanessa says, “The wonderful thing about this ad is that it creates conversation.”


The Cigarette That Saved Lives is currently screening on local broadcasters as part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children between 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and 10 December 2011 (International Human Rights Day).


Everyone involved with the shoot worked pro bono, from the crew to the rental houses. They are:


Agency: Fox P2

Agency producer: Katherine Tripp

Exec creative director: Justin Gomes and Andrew Whitehouse

Copywriter: Gavin Williams

Art director: Michael Lees-Rolfe

Director: Bruno Bossi

Director of photography: Paul Gilpin

Producer: Kirsten Clarence

Post production co: Black Ginger

Editing company & city: Priest Cape Town

Editor: Matthew Swanepoel

Music & music publisher: Marc Algranti @ Pulse Music NY



  1. Okay so DNA convicts…what now? It’s such an arb message. “Do not contaminate crime scenes”. Wow!?

  2. Silly ad.

  3. Did no one else think that was a touch racist?

  4. For all the amazing work that Fox does, this one makes no sense and seems completely pointless.

  5. I will remember not to contaminate the crime scene next time I stumble over a dead body…promise!

  6. I have to comment on the responses above:
    “a touch racist”…why? Last year’s ad featured a white guy as the perpatrator. Not a word. Why is that? But really, who cares what colour he is? In any event the perpetrator represents the demographics of the country and the criminal population. Why is that a touchy subject in the context of this ad?
    “Do not contaminate crime scenes”. Wow!?” – this has to be top of my list: contamination of crime scenes is one of the most serious problems in SA today as the crime scene investigators only have one chance to collect evidence, which if lost, is lost forever. There are too many cases to cite where the case is closed because of the loss of evidence at the scene of the crime due to lack of awareness and contamination. Crime scene awareness is one of the biggest challenges we have in SA.
    “This one makes no sense and seems completely pointless.” – OK, then let me spell it out. By identifying who was at the crime scene, through DNA, and putting that profile onto a database, it can link the perpetrator to not only that crime but any other unrelated crimes. This is one of the most reliable and strongest forms of evidence available today. By convicting that suspect and putting them in prison, it prevents them from committing further crimes. SA has one of the highest rates of recidivism in the world i.e. reoffending rates — we have serial offenders who if caught, will be prevented from killing/raping again. Make sense now?
    “I will remember not to contaminate the crime scene next time I stumble over a dead body…promise!” — had I taken this advice when my father was murdered, then perhaps we would have something of value to link the killers to the crime scene. Sadly, I didn’t do this and neither did the police nor friends nor family nor security guards nor paramedics present at the crime scene — all of whom were responsible for throwing away, washing away, contaminating, destroying and neglecting to collect evidence at the crime scene, of which there was plenty.
    I think criticism is healthy. When it’s not constructive, it’s simply inane.

  7. I just saw the ad…I think the project is great, but the ad was just too gruesome.