Joe Camel ad shop under a fax attack

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New York-based Mezzina/Brown, agency for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s Camel cigarettes, may have faced tobacco critics before. But now the critics have new weapons--the Web and the fax.

The agency and its president, Bill Brown, are the targets of a Web page that hopes to tie up the shop's fax machines with anti-Joe Camel messages.


InterActivism last week launched the page asking Web surfers to send their sentiments to the agency. Forms filled out are automatically faxed to Mezzina/Brown by InterActivism, which is also using its Web site to offer environmental messages.

"The main thing is to give the public via the Internet the opportunity to disapprove," said Richard Deutsch, director of InterActivism, a joint project of public relations agency Fenton Communications, Internet company Potomac Interactive Corp. and designer Indigo Group Graphics.

He said InterActivism hopes to sell ads on its pages to marketers wanting to target activists.

200 FAXES, OR 20?

Mr. Deutsch said about 200 faxes have been sent to Mezzina/Brown, but Mr. Brown said the agency had received only about 20.

Mr. Brown said that instead of complaining about tobacco advertising, some faxes have supported the agency.

"It's an unknown little company using this as a promotion," Mr. Brown said, adding that Mezzina/Brown is talking to its attorney about the site.

He said the premise that Joe Camel is aimed at those under the legal age for smoking is incorrect.

"No one is selling cigarettes to a class of people for whom it is illegal to buy," he said.

Mr. Brown said the agency's research indicates the Internet may attract more smokers than average media, and may in fact be a bad place to pitch for non-smoker comments.

Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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