Fox, CBS Nix 'Morbid' Anti-smoking Ads

by Wendy Melillo / with staff reports
Ad Week, Monday, 2/14/00

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Some of the American Legacy Foundation's "ambush" ads have been rejected by CBS and Fox Networks while the target, Philip Morris, is considering legal action.

Network officials said they are concerned Legacy spots such as "Body Bag," "Lie Detector" and "Shredder" are either "morbid," "over-the-top" or go too far in attacking Big Tobacco. CBS refused to air any of the three in their current form, a representative said. Fox declined "Body Bag," which shows corpses being pulled from a truck in front of Philip Morris headquarters [Adweek, Feb. 7].

"Lie Detector" depicts teens carrying a lie-detector machine "inside a major tobacco company" in an effort to get "at the truth" about nicotine's addictiveness. It aired during the TV show South Park last week.

Legacy officials said they continue to negotiate with the networks. "Our ads hit the messages of nicotine addiction and the health effects and social cost of tobacco," said representative William Furmanski. "You know what, that is a grim story."

Legacy agencies Arnold Communications and Crispin Porter & Bogusky could not be reached.

Fox may be worried about corporate board relationships, observers said. Philip Morris CEO Geoffrey Bible is a board member of News Corp., which owns Fox. Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp., sits on Philip Morris' board. Fox officials said the decision was based on content, not board relationships.

When asked about legal action, a PM rep said, "We are considering all of our options. We are very disappointed that ALF has taken this approach."

NBC said negotiations are continuing with Legacy. ABC has a policy of not discussing media buys.

source: Bill Godshall Announcement List

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