Debate and Issues Index

draft settlement

ADWEEK Critique Calls Philip Morris Ad Campaign Ineffective

ADWEEK columnist Barbara Lippert reviews Philip Morris' new antismoking advertising campaign, and expresses skepticism about the campaign's effectiveness and PM's motives.

She points out the contradiction in the company's simultaneous advertising to promote its products and to discourage teens from using its products. Lippert writes: "[T]hese ads are too tepid and generic -- they could sell anything from orange juice to toothpaste..."

PM has chosen to create a mellow, sensitive, "rely on your good sense, son" picture.

Are they serious? This is advertising covering a life-and-death issue! So where is the big stick? The scare tactics? The hit 'em over your head with destroying your life stuff?"

Lippert points out that other counter-ad campaigns, such as one featuring Pam Laffin aired by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, seem to be more effective by showing graphic images of smoking's toll. She concludes, "Perhaps it's impossible for any nonsmoking message to come from Philip Morris, anyway.

Like many other portions of this gazillion-dollar tobacco deal, it benefits lawyers -- and not many others. But certainly in future work, trying to get past the surface, to get deeper into the ritual, deeper into the dynamics of why kids smoke and get underneath what they claim might be a good start for any serious anti-smoking campaign.

To begin with, PM might consider digging until it comes up with a powerful American anti-smoking signifier that could be immediately read around the world. "Did someone say coughing cowboy?"

Source: ADWEEK, (12/14/98) "Smoke And Mirrors", Barbara Lippert, p. 34