Philip Morris International is to launch a global advertising campaign to highlight the dangers of smoking, in a move that has been criticised by anti-smoking campaigners as a cynical corporate PR exercise designed to gain market share.
The advertising will play up Philip Morris’ efforts to produce safer cigarettes and to discourage children from smoking. The on-pack leaflets will also include information on cigarette ingredients and the risk of addiction.
A spokeswoman for anti-smoking group ASH says the ads will help to sell more cigarettes. The text in the advertising is expected to include: “No one wants kids to smoke, including us… But the vast majority of the world’s adult smokers don’t smoke our brands and this gives us opportunity for growth.”
TBWA/London is developing print advertising for the UK, which will be supported by on-pack leaflets on Philip Morris’ Marlboro brands. A spokesman says the ads will run in national publications such as Sunday newspapers.
The ASH spokeswoman says: “Philip Morris is trying to tell the consumer that it cares, when this is about market share. It can’t advertise its brands, so it is advertising itself.”
A Philip Morris spokesman denies that this is a corporate relations campaign: “This is not corporate PR – it is another means of communicating to customers. Our consumers want us to be transparent and to deal with issues such as children smoking.”
He adds that the initiative is an extension to the global anti-smoking campaign aimed at children that has run on MTV for several years. That campaign was also created by TBWA.