Free Movies has launched a series of print advertisements
in Variety and other publications. This advertisement
first ran on March 10, 2009.
One in a Series
Who put the American Spirit
cigarettes in Warner Bros.’ He’s Just Not
That Into You?
Warner Bros. doesn’t say. As of March 4, the studio
had yet to go on the record to explain repeated close-ups
of American Spirits (British American Tobacco) in its
The New York Times and L.A. Times
cite unnamed sources suggesting Warner Bros. overlooked
the American Spirits as it unified Warner and New Line,
the film’s distributor. But wouldn’t the
reorganization mean Warner Bros. would pay more attention
to New Line’s projects, not less?
Least plausible suggestion: “[S]tudio
policemen not being the hippest people in the room...may
have thought that American Spirit was an invented product,
not an actual brand.”*
Implicit in these alibis is that Warner
Bros. would have stopped the branding if it had known
about it. Why not say so? Why not simply state that
this problem won’t happen again because Warner
Bros. won’t display tobacco brands again?
Warner Bros. isn’t the only studio to feature
tobacco brands. Since 1998, when a legal agreement with
state Attorneys General barred domestic tobacco subsidiaries
from paying for product placement, at least 117 U.S.
films have featured tobacco brand imagery, presumably
for free. In 2008, eleven films, three of them youth-rated,
Among the corporations that so generously include tobacco
brands appealing to young people: Disney, DreamWorks,
GE, News Corp., Lionsgate, Sony, Time Warner, Viacom
Do media companies want people to
believe they don’t engage in tobacco product placement?
Then they should stop making films that look just like
films with tobacco product placement.
[Poster caption: He’s Just Not
That Into You]
American Spirits feature in Warner
Bros.’ PG-13 Valentines Day release for 2009.
Production companies: Flower Films (Drew Barrymore et
al), Internationale Filmproduktion Blackswan (Pullach,
[Poster caption: Definitely, Maybe]
Marlboros and thinly-disguised American
Spirits co-starred in Universal’s PG-13 Valentines
Day film in 2008. Production companies: Studio Canal,
Working Title, Ringerike Erste Filmproduktion (Pullach,
[Ad caption: Betty Grable for Chesterfield
From the 1920s to 1940s, when the studios
brokered cigarette ad deals for stars, almost no tobacco
brands were shown on screen. From the 1970s into the
1990s, tobacco firms invested millions in product placement,
often doing deals outside U.S. jurisdiction. Are studios
and production companies still playing along?
some tobacco brand appearances since 1990, go to smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/problem/brand_id
in movies kills in real life. | Smoke Free Movie policies—the
R-rating, certification of no payoffs, anti-tobacco
spots, and an end to brand display—are endorsed
by the World Health Organization, American Medical Association,
AMA Alliance, American Academy of Pediatrics, American
Heart Association, American Legacy Foundation, American
Lung Association, American Public Health Association,
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, L.A. County Dept. of
Health Services, New York State Dept. of Health, New
York State PTA, and many others. Visit our web site
or write: Smoke Free Movies, UCSF School of Medicine,
San Francisco, CA 94143-1390. | *Patrick Goldstein,