The request is part of what may become the FTC's most extensive effort ever to prove an advertising case.
`BEYOND THE BOUNDS'
"It is one of the largest requests for production of evidence ever in an advertising case," William MacLeod, an attorney for RJR, told Administrative Law Judge James P. Timony in the first hearing into the FTC's charge that Joe Camel advertising causes kids to smoke.
"It is well beyond the bounds of reasonableness and relevance," said John Williams, another RJR attorney.
The subpoenaed documents include all Joe Camel advertising and related memos for the 10 years of the campaign, memos relating to the campaign's development in the three years leading to its unveiling and then information going back as far as 10 years further, concerning RJR discussions about the underage market.
BAN SOUGHT ON JOE CAMEL
The FTC on May 28 in a 3-2 vote accused RJR of purposely using Joe Camel to lure kids under 18 to smoke or continue smoking. The commissioners also asked for an order that banned RJR from using the cartoon character in most situations, as well as requiring it to run corrective advertising.
The FTC announcement came almost exactly three years after the agency, on another 3-2 vote, decided not to take action on Joe Camel, with the three-member majority saying there was no proof Joe caused kids to smoke.
RJR has filed a suit in U.S. District Court, Winston-Salem, N.C., challenging the FTC's procedures and press leaks about the voting, but meanwhile is defending itself in the administrative hearing that follows the FTC charge.
Mr. Williams told Judge Timony last week RJR hopes to short-circuit a long hearing by forcing the FTC to point to new evidence since the 1994 decision that will sustain its charge. "I believe that the commission is heading into new and uncharted territories, and there is no reason for causation," he said.
RJR contends there is no new evidence and without it the case should be dismissed. The company also has contended the FTC based its case on statistics that the number of underage kids smoking Camels is rising when RJR figures show a drop. FTC attorney David Shonka said there is no need for the agency to prove new evidence prompted the change, but only that there is evidence.
Judge Timony said he's concerned the number of documents requested and the length of an administrative hearing could make it difficult for him to reach an decision within the year required by FTC rules.