Advertising is the vector for the death and misery that tobacco causes. With smoking claiming more than 7 million lives each year, the industry must use aggressive marketing to acquire replacement smokers – and the younger they hook them, the larger the industry’s potential profit.
We’re asking ad agencies to stop working for Big Tobacco, and we’re asking organizations to be sure they’re not working with ad agencies who do.
The tobacco industry hires leading advertising firms to create sexy, cunning, sophisticated campaigns designed to appeal to young people around the globe.
Consider this investigative report from the Guardian (March 2018): “Schoolchildren around the world are being exposed on a daily basis to cigarette advertising and promotions by a tobacco industry that needs to recruit the young to maintain its vast profits.” Here’s how:
The ads targeting kids are savvy and smart: Consider Marlboro’s global “Don’t Be a Maybe” campaign – ostensibly for adults – which urges audiences to go for that first kiss, motorcycle ride, bungee jump, or… just try smoking.
“Don’t Be a Maybe” is the work of Leo Burnett, the same advertising agency behind recent ads for UnitedHealthcare, a leading health insurance company. United may not realize the agency they employ is helping to drive one of the leading causes of preventable disease and a major cost for their business, or that they are partnered with an agency that contravenes their core value of health.
In India, advertising agencies help tobacco companies come up with glossy, high-production content that appeals to youth using actors popular with young people like Priyanka Chopra for Pan Masala:
Or this recent ad for another Pan Masala tobacco product that featured the popular actor Akshay Kumar “surrounded by beautiful women, rapping about his pleasure-filled life and posing the question ‘What’s your pleasure?'”
In Indonesia, ads feature young people, heartache, rock banks… like this Sampoerna/Philip Morris International ad from MullenLowe:
Or the famous Go Ahead campaign for Sampoerna from Bates Chi & Partners, an agency in WPP Group:
Or finally, a campaign by Dentsu Strat Indonesia for Gudang Garam all about exploring and embracing unforgettable journeys:
The tobacco epidemic is driven by people – tobacco industry executives and ad agency CEOs who have decided that profit is more important than health. We’re confident that the solution is driven by people too – executives at health-oriented businesses and organizations who stand on the side of health and will Quit Big Tobacco, taking the moral stand to refuse to work with the tobacco industry and its agents.
Sign our pledge not to work with tobacco companies or their ad agencies.