Free Movies has launched a series of print advertisements
in the Daily Variety and other publications. This advertisement
first ran in the Daily Variety on November 27, 2006.
One in a series
Deconstructing Philip Morris
Have you read their latest ads? Nick Naylor would be proud. Below, an insider’s guide to PR for the shameless corporate racketeer.
[IMAGE: Mocked up copy of PM USA press release from 11/17/06; text unaltered. The ad consists of call-outs commenting on various parts of the press release.]
In mid-August, a federal judge ruled in U.S.A. v. Philip Morris U.S.A. et al that the company had violated anti-racketeering laws and defrauded the public for half a century.
Brands are trademarks; trademark holders say “cease and desist,” not “please.”
Other companies have written studios protesting brand display; but only after they were pushed to do so by California’s Attorney General. The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement bars paid tobacco brand placement in any medium. Most tobacco in films is now unbranded. Smart.
Actually, more than 60 studies on four continents show that exposure to screen smoking leads teens to start smoking.
Research finds PM USA’s youth campaign also makes kids more likely to smoke.
Notice that this statement comes from PM USA. Does it apply at all PM International, the much larger Altria division actually on record paying for product placement? And if PM USA’s is diving for legal cover, isn’t Hollywood left twisting in the wind?
“G” rating is for “general audiences.” PM brands have shown up in more than two dozen PG and PG-13 films since 1990.
These ads give cynicism a bad name. They appear to suggest that Hollywood is now more pro-tobacco than the world’s largest tobacco company. The remarkable thing is, Big Tobacco doesn’t care how preposterous this sounds.
Soon after the U.S. banned TV commercials for tobacco, Philip Morris and its competitors began systematic product placement programs costing millions of dollars. Despite public pledges and legal agreements, 75% of PG-13 films and 88% of R-rated live-action films since 1998 have featured tobacco.
71% of brands in U.S. films since 1990 belong to Philip Morris; mostly Marlboro, which has 41% market share in reality.
The AMA and others first tried to bar tobacco placement 20 years ago.
Four times [1, 2, 3, 4] in the past four years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have cited on-screen tobacco has an important reason why the historic decline in teen smoking has stalled. Globally, an unexpected rise in smoking by girls is forcing scientists to revise death projections.[source A, source B]
Leading health authorities in the U.S. and the World Health Organization endorse four policy solutions that can effectively make G/PG/PG-13 movies smokefree and avert 60,000 future tobacco deaths a year in the United States alone. The question is no longer “Why?” but “When?”
Same line used by tobacco companies for decades...
Altria still makes most of its money from tobacco. On-screen smoking’s value to tobacco company sales exceeds $4 billion a year (npv).
The scientific evidence from scores of studies is conclusive: movies sell smoking. Philip Morris was right about the movies. Now prove them wrong about the film community.
Accepted policy solutions at smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu
The R-rating, among other Smoke Free Movies policy proposals, is endorsed by the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Legacy Foundation, National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Society for Adolescent Medicine, L.A. County Dept. of Health Services, and others. This project is supported by the Arimathea Fund of the Tides Foundation and other donors. To explore this critical health issue, visit our web site.
Click here for more commentary on PM's strategy.
See the ad.