After three years of not so quietly taking signs saying "Non-smokers and smokers welcome" to restaurants and hotels, Philip Morris has begun advertising aimed at making smokers aware of the signage and getting them to look for it.
The first consumer use of the logo and signs began in tiny mentions within the new Benson & Hedges campaign from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago. But Philip Morris recently has begun running separate advertising in several magazines touting tolerance.
"Intolerance promotes isolation, tolerance strengthens bonds" says one ad from Burston-Marsteller, Pittsburgh, appearing in Conde Nast Publications titles. Both the Benson & Hedges ads and the separate ones carry a phone number consumers can use to get a copy of the logo and a booklet detailing the program.
The advertising may soon be much more widely used. Philip Morris confirmed it is considering raising the campaign's profile with additional consumer advertising.
"We thought it was important to let consumers and patrons know" about the logo, said Ellen Merlo, VP-corporate affairs.
All the ads feature a green and red logo that has a burning cigarette on one side and a blank space on the other. The logo is intended to indicate locations that allow smokers, and Philip Morris is calling the effort "The Accommodation Program."
Ms. Merlo said the new Benson & Hedges campaign, which tries to humorously demonstrate the problems smokers have in smoking, seemed a perfect opportunity to carry the program to consumers. Since the program went national in 1991, 14,000 establishments have come on board and display the symbol, she said.
Philip Morris' move comes as smoking critics put increasing pressure on local and state governments to ban smoking from public places, citing a potential danger from secondhand smoke.
The booklet sent to smokers says the program, "helps prevent unnecessary government regulations and helps business owners retain the right to determine their own policy, based on consumer demand."
"Overall Americans have said time after time that they support accommodation over bans," Ms. Merlo said.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has a similar program called "Peaceful Co-existence" but so far has aimed it only at restaurants and other establishments.
Instead, RJR has used its corporate advertising to drive home a similar point.
In the latest example of that, RJR last week ran a page ad suggesting a tobacco ban would represent "a great business opportunity" for some people, leading to smuggling, gang activity and other increases in crime.
"We believe that the answer to most smoking issues lies in accommodations, in finding ways in which smokers and non-smokers can co-exist," said the ad from Doig Elliott Shur, New York.