That kind of marketing adaptability may soon come into play in the U.S., where tobacco companies say they are willing to accept new curbs on cigarette ad creative (a ban on people in ads); media (no more outdoor advertising); and sales promotion techniques as part of a wider settlement of tobacco issues with the federal government.
TV and radio ads for cigarettes were banned in the U.S. more than 20 years ago, and marketers successfully turned to other media and forms of promotion. Overseas, they have found creative ways to support cigarette brands no matter what the regulatory climate-from France's total ad ban to the more open markets of Latin America.
For Chesterfield, Philip Morris International invites smokers at German events to create their own ads-using everything from magic markers to video cameras.
In a somewhat more professional approach, young production companies were invited to create their own Chesterfield spots, such as "Smoking Rockets," a Swiss cinema spot with the image of a young man sporting a cigarette stuck through his pierced ear instead of an earring.
In Argentina, Philip Morris this month is running a $1 million TV, radio, newspaper and outdoor launch campaign from Y&R Advertising, Miami, for Chesterfield Brown that includes sponsorship of an alternative radio program called "Chesterfield Music Box."
Before France cracked down five years ago, the names of cigarette brands adorned sportswear, lighters and even travel agencies.
Even within the same country, the rules are often inconsistent. In Japan, for example, TV commercials for cigarettes are not allowed-except if it's a launch campaign. So cigarette marketers do endless brand extensions, coming up with variations such as mild ultra-light menthol to win those precious minutes on air.
`LITTLE TIME LEFT'
Even those who are still blithely churning out cigarette commercials do not expect it to last, however. Sergio Graciotti, president of TBWA Graciotti Schonburg, Sao Paulo, an agency in the midst of the Brazilian rollout of an Argentine brand called Sydney, acknowledges that there is "little time" left for cigarette ads on TV: "It's inevitable."
The U.K. ad industry consistently unveils the world's most creative, witty cigarette ads-and does so within voluntary, but tough, restrictions ranging from a gradual phasing out of outdoor ads to detailed rules against glamorizing smoking.
Soon all that won't matter. The new Labour government has vowed to replace the industry's cigarette code with a complete and legal ban (see Page 78).