Date: Feb 12, 2000
By Ira Teinowitz
Philip Morris USA, suggesting the American Legacy
Foundation's anti-smoking ad campaign and Web site
violate "the spirit" of the agreement that funds them, is
hinting its billion-dollar payments toward the effort may
be in jeopardy unless major changes are made.
"We are seriously exploring all our options," said Brendan
McCormick, a manager of media relations for PM. When
asked whether the country's largest tobacco maker would
seriously consider halting payments for the program, Mr.
McCormick responded, "We haven't ruled anything out."
MORE TOBACCO REACTION
PM's comments were the first from the tobacco industry
since the foundation launched its "Truth" ads last week from
Arnold Communications, Boston, and Crispin Porter &
Bogusky, Miami. Other tobacco makers said last week they
are reviewing the ads and may have statements as soon as
today. The foundation is spending $300 million a year on the
anti-smoking effort, with $185 million allocated to advertising
and public relations activities. Funding is calculated based
on market share, making PM the largest contributor to the
PM said last week the "Truth" ads and the foundation's Web
site appear to conflict with requirements contained in the
tobacco industry's agreement with state attorneys general to
fund the foundation. That agreement stipulates the foundation
can't "vilify" the industry.
One foundation spot now airing was surreptitiously filmed in
the lobby of PM's New York headquarters. In it, a woman tries
to present a lie detector machine to someone at "a major
tobacco company's" marketing department. She's trying to
garner the truth because "You've said smoking is addictive
and then that it isn't."
The foundation's Web site gives as its mission statement:
"Big tobacco is spending billions on a war to get inside our
heads and get us to smoke. . . . They are afraid of us
discovering the truth about what they've done . . . and
[standing] up tall to question business as usual."
A second spot in the effort features a body bag; another that's
yet to air features a paper shredder, suggesting that tobacco
company officials tried to cover up industry documents.
None of the ads identifies the American Legacy Foundation
as the sponsor.
All ads use a "Truth" theme that was first used in the 1997
Florida campaign Crispin created.
NO DECISION YET FROM NETWORKS
Though ABC, CBS and NBC had not approved airing any of
the spots last week, PM maintains it has major problems with
the foundation's campaign.
"We are very disappointed. We don't think [the campaign]
serves the purpose of the foundation, which is to educate the
public on tobacco-related health issues," said Mr. McCormick.
"In our opinion, the ad and the Web site [are] inconsistent with
the foundation's purpose and with our own commitment to
[comply with] the letter and spirit of the settlement agreement."
"We think the settlement agreement represents an opportunity
to put some of the unproductive acrimony behind us and
provides a framework to move forward to address our mutual
The company, however, declined to say what steps it might take.
SPOTS TONED DOWN
Washington State Attorney General Christine Gregoire has
acknowledged she ordered the foundation's initial ads toned
down, and network executives last week said scripts that
originally cited PM by name had been altered to remove
mention of the company.
The foundation last week said the ads would continue.
"These ads hit on the messages and are well within the
boundaries of the [settlement agreement]," said Bill
Furmanski, the foundation's communications manager.
"They talk about the addictiveness of tobacco, the health
effects of tobacco and the social cost of tobacco use. As
long as we talk about those items and communicate
effectively with young people, we are well within the limits
of the settlement."
source: Bill Godshall Announcement List