R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. last week said plans are under way to launch individual-company consumer ad campaigns on their positions relating to teen smoking and the economic danger of potential legislation against the industry.
The ads would complement the industrywide advertising already in progress, handled by Bozell/Eskew, Washington and Malibu, Calif.
Neither the scope nor spending levels on the individual corporate efforts, nor agency assignments, could be determined.
Philip Morris USA said it had no immediate plans for similar ads.
Steven Goldstone, CEO of RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp., said his company was pulling out of congressional negotiations on legislation, and said RJR Nabisco's Reynolds unit would mount a grassroots effort to warn of the economic impact of the tobacco bill being considered in Congress and the threat to individual liberty posed by sections of the bill, including barring the use of color or pictures in ads aimed at adults.
Mr. Goldstone indicated advertising would be part of the effort but said he hadn't thought through details. A spokesman for the marketer said the company is "committed to helping the American people understand" its situation, and that it would use a variety of approaches, including advertising.
Brown & Williamson is readying a campaign aimed at discouraging tobacco use by those under 18, and may do other advertising, a company spokesman said.
Mr. Goldstone's April 8 speech to the National Press Club appeared to indicate that any ad restrictions taking effect from tobacco legislation will be considerably less comprehensive than some of the more drastic efforts proposed--and in some cases agreed to by tobacco companies.
Tobacco companies earlier had agreed to pull all outdoor ads, remove people and cartoon characters from ads and accept Food & Drug Administration marketing restrictions in return for protection against liability suits. Now, tobacco marketers are saying they won't accept those ad restrictions, or some even more drastic ones, for the lesser protection and higher costs contained in the Commerce Committee bill sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.).
"The bill that Sen. McCain has requires my signature, and there is no chance in the world it's going to get my signature," said Mr. Goldstone in a statement other tobacco marketers later echoed.
Sen. McCain's bill gives the FDA authority to issue ad regulations that a lower court ruled the agency didn't have, although the bill doesn't directly impose any ad restrictions. That would leave the fate of FDA rules in the courts.
While legislators last week weren't happy about the new position of the industry, tobacco marketers haven't been part of the Senate's bill-drafting process for more than a week, and there was no indication the statements would have an impact on the legislation.
Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.