Philip Morris abandons more magazines

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Philip Morris USA continues to pull cigarette ads from magazines over its concerns about teen readership. A company spokesman confirmed late June 15 that its cigarette ads would no longer run in five Spanish-language versions of titles that were among the 42 it announced it would remove its ads from last week--Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, People en Espanol and Vogue. Also off Philip Morris' list is ESPN the Magazine, which was omitted from the earlier list because the 2-year-old title had not yet been included in surveys on teen readership. "We looked at the data we had available for similar publications and tried to do a comparison,'' the PM spokesman said. "We thought it was a responsible decision to make in the absence of data for these publications.''

In 1999, the ESPN title took in $3.9 million in cigarette-related advertising from PM, or 5.1% of its total ad revenue. Through a spokesman, Publisher Andrew Sippel declined to comment on Philip Morris' cigarette-related ad revenue for 2000. Last year, People En Espanol tallied $435,000 in PM cigarette ads, or about 4% of total ad revenue. "It's a unique situation,'' said Peter Krieger, group advertising director for Time Inc.'s People group. The advertising is "gone for the short term; we keep fingers crossed it will come back.''

Meanwhile, the PM spokesman said the tobacco giant had made no decision yet on whether it will consider advertising in more precisely adult-targeted versions of the magazines from which it has pulled advertising. "We are continuing to work with attorneys general and publishers,'' the spokesman said. Newsweek has said it will propose such a version of its title to PM executives.

Newspapers may find an upside in PM's decision, as the company's spokesman said that the ads it will remove from USA Weekend and Parade could migrate to the local Sunday newspapers in which the magazines appear. "We have to talk with [PM] about the demographics of the target audience and the sections they'd be using,'' said Rick Tippett, director of national advertising for The Washington Post, "but we look forward to continuing the dialogue with them.'' The Post's Sunday edition carries Parade magazine.

PM's latest moves came during a tense week in which company executives took the stand in a Florida class-action suit against tobacco companies. On June 14, Philip Morris USA CEO Walt Szymanczyk testified that ending teen smoking "is the right thing to do,'' and that his company's advertising only represented attempts to stop current smokers from switching brands.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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