Please Don't Buy Our Product

|

The new, improved Philip Morris is not only clamoring for government regulation (the better to fend off its competitors). The company is also running a TV ad bragging about all the measures it's taking to discourage consumption of its products.

"We voluntarily removed our ads from the back covers of magazines," the announcer says, and "significantly reduced our magazine advertising." Philip Morris also brags about its sponsorship of the "We Card" program aimed at preventing cigarette sales to minors and a Web site that offers pointers on "how parents can talk to their kids about not smoking." On the Web site, "you'll also find information on the serious health effects of smoking and links to sites that can help smokers quit."

Philip Morris ostensibly has adopted the message of anti-smoking public service messages: If you don't smoke, don't start; if you do smoke, quit. Is this what they call the soft sell?

NEXT: You May Already Be A Winner

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m sure the cigarette companies are making an honest effort to destroy their own business:) I’ve seen the ad mentioned here, and it’s almost as funny as those anti-marijuana commercials (Harmless? or “It’s more dangerous than we all thought.”).

    I guess Phillip Morris sees the writing on the wall: the only way to survive in the tobacco industry in the US is to cozy up to Uncle Sam, especially since Uncle Sam profits from the taxes too. Soon you’ll see Phillip Morris touting their own benificence while at the same time bashing other cigarette companies for not despising their own products.

  2. Maybe PM has simply wised up to the fact that smoking rates have remained more or less constant over the past couple of decades, following a long decline. People start smoking all the time, regardless of advertising (or a lack thereof.)

    Might as well spend your marketing budget placating the regulators.

  3. I don’t think it would be fraud to advertise “you will die if you smoke these”. Of course the consumer will eventually die either way…

  4. I think these ads are brilliant. They almost make me want to start up again.

    As if cigarettes could get any cooler, now there are ads specifically promoting ways parents can talk to their kids about smoking. Perfect way to reinforce the little rebels’ suspicions that smoking is the right thing to do.

    What should PM do next? As a marketing guy, I’d suggest an ad promoting ways school principals or truancy officers can fight underage smoking. That’d clinch it. Teens across the nation would be firing up butt #1.

    Jefferson

  5. I find it amazing that with all of the information about how detrimental to your health smoking is, people still start. I find it even more amazing that anyone but a smoker is held responsible for the consequences of their individual decision to light up.

  6. StMack:

    Welcome to the land of the “Free”: Free to blame all of your problems on somebody else. Especially if “sombody else” happens to be a corporation.

    Hrm, I think I’ll go trade my foodstamps for a pack of cigs before heading out to my daily boycott McDonalds position.

  7. StMack–I saw an item in today’s paper that stated that PM paid a settlement in a suit in Fort Worth because a woman left her lighted cigarette on the front seat while she left the car for something. It ignited the seat and burned a toddler, so PM paid?

  8. Marketing a product as “only for grownups” is the absolute best way to make children want it.

  9. PLC,

    You should include a chunk of a dead smoker’s lung inside each pack, and have a Marlboro points type promotion that is redeemable for oxygen tanks, iron lungs, and such. 2000 proofs-of-purchase could get you a cemetary plot. For 10000 you could get a set of healthy new lungs from a Bangladeshi. If you played your cards right, you could get Nike, etc. to pay you to come up with better and better promotions to distract the hippies and anarchists while they go back to building decent basketball shoes.

    I don’t think it’d actually work to keep the lawers off of you, but at least the trial would be fun.

  10. This is what you get when you let lawyers rule the world.

  11. Sounds like they’re selling stock, not cigs.

    Since the other parts of the world are where the big consumption is (Cambodia has an 80% rate of cig smoking), PM is just trying to get more enlightened americans to realize how good and wholesome they are and up their stock price.

  12. PLC,

    The brand mentioned early was Black Death cigarettes. Skull and crossbones with a tophat, dire warning of death, and they did taste like ass.

    Some like to call them cancer sticks, I prefer anti-Alzheimer’s sticks. Do the research, it’s NIH’s dirty little secret that they report minimally and the news won’t touch.

    See, the trick to smoking is quantity, like all things, moderation is necessary. But, but, but, they’re addictive!!! Have, have, have some personal fuckin’ discipline. Treat each 4 or 5 cigs like a McD’s double cheeseburger. If people tended to eat 8-10 of these things a day, every day, for years on end, they’d be killing people too. If you keep your smoking minimal, you enjoy the drug, without the bad effects, but with the health benefits. Fewer cigs or fewer drags, the choice is yours. Remeber Sinatra’s rule, three puffs and it’s out.

  13. Speaking of smoking:

    OTTAWA, Oct. 3 ? Now Canadians can understand why Prime Minister Jean Chretien seems to be in such a hurry to push through a law decriminalizing marijuana. Chretien, 69, said in an interview published on Friday that he might give pot a try once it is no longer a criminal offense ? presumably after he retires in February. Under the new law, pot users would only pay a fine if caught with small amounts.

    http://www.msnbc.com/news/975443.asp?0cv=CB20

  14. Philip Morris is part of a conglomerate that makes many other products. As someone else posted, their biggest market for cigarrettes is overseas. Selling cigarettes to Americans may lead to further expensive lawsuits, so it is actually more profitable for them to discourage Americans from smoking.
    They can sell the cigarettes in other countries, and sell beer and cream cheese to Americans, at least until lawsuits about drunk driving and/or cholesterol.

  15. chthus-

    I have heard rumors from time to time of certain medicinal benefits from nicotine. If (for the sake of argument) those rumors are true, that doesn’t mean you need to smoke. There are other ways to obtain nicotine without the dangerous effects of smoking. My understanding is that the nicotine isn’t the dangerous part of the cigarettes, it’s everything else in the smoke. The nicotine is just the thing that makes you want the smoke.

  16. thoreau,

    You are quite right. They are running trials slapping the patch on old folks with early stage alzheimers and seeing some good results. For a look at the literature, stop by pubmed and do a search for alzheimers and nicotine.

    As for my choice of delivery device (cig or cigar), it is unnecessary, but similarly you can get the health benefits of alcohol by doing a shot of grain, but I prefer some stout or whiskey. Choose your poison, just don’t take a lethal dose.

  17. At this rate I predict a “tobacco crisis” similar to the California “energy crisis.” And I predict the crisis will, ironically, be concurrent with the complete legalization of marijuana.

  18. Since all the tobacco company settlements with the government essentially create a $1.50 per pack or so tax on all current brands, what is to stop me from starting a new cigarette company and underpricing the competition? I was thinking of calling them “Death Sticks” and having all black packaging with skull and cross-bones on the front. Have a warning that says “If you smoke these, you will DIE” or “By openning this package you acknowledge that you are responsible for ALL health effects”. Basically, you won’t have to face the same litigation or regulation as your competitors, and the marketing is pretty obvious…

  19. PLC-

    well, you’d be committing fraud since you’re not actually selling something that kills EVERYONE who tries it. You also would still have to put the surgeon general’s warning on that puppy, no matter how obvious it is from the rest of the box.

    otherwise, feel free to give it a shot…

  20. “Since all the tobacco company settlements with the government essentially create a $1.50 per pack or so tax on all current brands…”

    I live in virginia, which has the lowest cigarette taxes (surprise, surprise) in the nation, at a mere 2.5 cents per pack. If the above statement is true, is there any way Phillip Morris could afford to advertise against themselves if you can get a carton for 20.99? (10 packs to a carton, btw.) They have to make the smokes, package, ship, the retailer takes what is probably a very small cut, etc.

  21. PLC,

    I don’t know–I don’t think it would satisfy the prohibitionists. I can’t imagine having an inteligent conversation, let alone anything else, with people like Carrie Nation.

  22. PLC,

    Someone already has beat you to the punch regarding that trademark and trade dress.

  23. PLC,
    Back when I smoked, I got a pack that was black with a skull on it (in a top hat). It wasn’t cheap though, and they tasted nasty. I can’t remember what they were called. And they weren’t cheap, either.
    A coupla years ago (2000), I saw packs of cigarettes called “Winner” at several stores that were going for $1-$1.50/pack. I guessed they were made from what was swept off the floor of the cigarette company, tasted like smoking dirt. I don’t know what their deal was. Dumping of foreign cigarettes? Someone trying the settlement-free way?

  24. PLC,
    Back when I smoked, I got a pack that was black with a skull on it (in a top hat). It wasn’t cheap though, and they tasted nasty. I can’t remember what they were called. And they weren’t cheap, either.
    A coupla years ago (2000), I saw packs of cigarettes called “Winner” at several stores that were going for $1-$1.50/pack. I guessed they were made from what was swept off the floor of the cigarette company, tasted like smoking dirt. I don’t know what their deal was. Dumping of foreign cigarettes? Someone trying the settlement-free way?

  25. arrgh, the first post was by me. I wrote PLC in the name b/c i wanted to address it to him/her.

  26. Philip Morris sells its cancer-sticks all over the world, and still markets them to children. They don’t give a shit about anyone’s health.

    http://www.infact.org

  27. Anyone else reminded of Christopher Buckley’s “Thank You for Smoking”? The tobacco industry spinmeister in the novel invents a campaign that sounds like a prototype for PM’s efforts: “Everything Your Parents Told You About Smoking Is Right.”

  28. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://soccer-online-gambling.best-gambling.biz
    DATE: 01/20/2004 07:15:08
    The best solution against abortions is education, not snipers.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.