Wolfe's exit won't impact anti-smoking campaign

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The architect of the American Legacy Foundation's controversial anti-smoking campaign is departing, but foundation officials claim that won't change the group's advertising or agency assignment.

The foundation, formed by state attorneys general as part of a settlement of state tobacco lawsuits, earmarked up to $125 million a year for anti-tobacco advertising, but is apparently spending far less.

Legacy Foundation Exec VP Chuck Wolfe, a former director of Florida's tobacco control program, brought that state's anti-tobacco maker "Truth" ad theme to the national group. Mr. Wolfe will depart soon, according to a statement from president Dr. Cheryl Healton. No successor has yet been named.

No reason was given for Mr. Wolfe's resignation except that it was time "to move on to the next challenge." Mr. Wolfe did not return calls from Advertising Age.

The Florida ad campaign, developed by Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, had been virulent in its opposition to the tobacco industry. One spot featuring a fictional awards ceremony for "demons" included an actor portraying Adolf Hitler vying with an actor portraying Big Tobacco. Big Tobacco won the award.


For the national effort, Mr. Wolfe hired Arnold Communications, Boston, which partnered with Crispin to bring a similar "Truth" campaign to national TV.

The strategy, however, quickly ran into problems.

First, tobacco companies and at least one attorney general -- noting that the national pact limits how the ad money could be used -- complained that some of the foundation's creative violated the national agreement on "vilification" of the tobacco industry (AA, Jan. 31). Then, major broadcast networks questioned whether the ads were more political statements than anti-smoking ads. They declined to run some of them, including one filmed surreptitiously in Philip Morris USA's lobby and another showing body bags.

Eventually the foundation chairman, Washington State Attorney General Christine Gregoire, ordered some of the most controversial ads withdrawn.

Dr. Healton in a statement noted that Mr. Wolfe had been hired before her arrival and stayed on. She said he had "laid the groundwork for a model organization."

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