TOBACCO MARKETERS CHARGE FLA. ADS VIOLATE PACT: CAMPAIGN'S BACKERS INSIST IT MEETS REQUIREMENTS OF $11.3 BIL SETTLEMENT

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Crispin, Porter & Bogusky's edgy new Florida anti-tobacco campaign and its allocation of $146,000 in campaign funds for media outside the state may have put that state's $11.3 billion settlement deal at risk.

The major tobacco marketers said last week that lawyers are studying whether the ads, which earned the state and the Coconut Grove-based agency considerable publicity, violate the deal under which the industry funded a $200 million, two-year Florida pilot program to halt underage smoking.

STIPULATIONS IN PACT

The agreement requires the money be used to fund elements "which shall be aimed specifically at the reduction of the use of tobacco products by persons under the age of 18"; that programs shall be "directed to the underage users or potential underage users of tobacco products"; and that ads "shall not be directed against the tobacco companies or any brand of tobacco products."

Crispin Porter last week ran ads in the Los Angeles Times, Variety, The New York Times and USA Today, as well as in the state.

One ad specifically addressed the movie industry, for example, rather than underage smokers, and read, "Attention movie industry: We're your best customers. So why are you trying to kill us."

Another pictured a hooded child. "We may be the hostages. But today, we're the ones making the demands," reads one of the print ads. "We're truth. A generation that's tired of being lied to about tobacco. . . . Tired of being a target. Today, supporters of tobacco become our target: distributors, advertising agencies, the media that accept tobacco advertising and the movies that glamorize it."

AD MAKES DEMANDS

The ad offered a series of demands, including "a written explanation" from companies using an ad agency that does tobacco ads and equal space for anti-tobacco messages from publishers running tobacco messages.

Steve Duchesne, a spokesman for the five tobacco companies that signed the deal, last week said the ads seemed to have little to do with convincing those under 18 not to smoke and he pointed specifically to the ad featuring the hooded child.

"I question whether the use of an ad that appears to be economic terrorism is actually an anti-smoking ad targeted to teens," said Mr. Duchesne. "It appears to be targeting our business partners. You can rest assured that our people are considering the very issue" of whether the ads violate the agreement.

ENVIRONMENT HAS CHANGED

The broad tobacco liability and ad regulation issue has changed since Florida's August 1997 agreement, and could make the tobacco marketers' objections of critical interest. When Florida became the first of three states to settle with the industry, tobacco marketers facing a state lawsuit hoped the accord would help push Congress to adopt the national settlement they earlier had reached with state attorneys general.

Now the tobacco companies are opposing the legislation being considered in Congress, saying they will fight state lawsuits and may have much less reason to want a Florida pact.

Charles Wolfe, director of the Florida Tobacco Pilot Program, last week denied ads violated the agreement with tobacco companies.

"If what we are doing reduces usage by people under 18, it meets the terms of the settlement," said Mr. Wolfe. "If one movie has fewer people smoking and it leads to less teen-agers thinking about smoking, [the ads] meet the terms of the settlement."

NO RULE ON STRATEGY

Mr. Wolfe said the settlement allows ads to run outside Florida and target those who service the industry. By attacking those industries, the state is directing the effort to curb underage smoking, he said.

The settlement "does not tell us the strategy by which we can accomplish that," he added.

Amie Miller, account supervisor at the agency, said the campaign was designed by talking to teens about what they felt was important (AA, Feb. 9).

"These are kids getting their message heard, and they're causing a little bit of trouble, and that's what targets kids," she said. "Kids need to create their own ways of making not smoking cool. This is how they chose to do it."

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