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Now Showing How Movies Sell Smoking Brand Identification Big Tobacco & Hollywood Public vs. Private Statements Fact vs. Fiction

Public vs. Private Statements

Big Tobacco's Smokescreen in Hollywood

If you think Hollywood's stance on smoking is unreal, consider the smokescreen put up by Big Tobacco. The tobacco industry's public statements about the movies do not reflect their plans or actions. A sampling:

In Private In Public
"We are pleased to report the excellent brand identification for Camel Filters will occur in this upcoming comedy motion picture ["Two of a Kind," originally titled "Second Chance"]. In fact, a pack of these cigarettes will be the major focus of an entire scene in which John Travolta's character steals a pack of Camel Filters for the angel, another major character in the film." 1983 report (from PR firm Rogers and Cowan to RJ Reynolds)

"To the best of our knowledge, neither the Company or Rogers and Cowan was asked to provide product or promotional materials." — 1989 response from RJ Reynolds to Representative Thomas Luken's request for details about any arrangements made regarding the film "Two of a Kind."

"We believe that most of the strong, positive images for cigarettes and smoking are created by cinema and television. We have seen the heroes smoking in 'Wall Street,' 'Crocodile Dundee,' and 'Roger Rabbit.' Mickey Rourke, Mel Gibson, and Goldie Hawn are forever seen, both on and off the screen, with a lighted cigarette. It is reasonable to assume that films and personalities have more influence on consumers than a static poster of the letters from a B&H [Benson & Hedges] pack hung on a washing line under a dark and stormy sky. If branded cigarette advertising is to take full advantage of these images, it has to do more than simply achieve package recognition — it has to feed off and exploit the image source." —1989 Philip Morris Market Research Study "Philip Morris has not taken part in any placements of its cigarette products or brands in films since 1988. Philip Morris has no present intention to engage in any efforts to obtain placements of its cigarette products or brands in films in the future." — 1990 response to the Federal Trade Commission from Ellen Merlo, Marketing VP, Philip Morris
(1) "The relationship with AFP [Associated Film Promotions] or Mr. Robert Kovoloff, President of AFP, apparently began in 1979, and was prompted by the Company's desire to remain competitive in the 'movie placement' arena. ... To date Brown & Williamson has paid to AFP or Mr. Kovoloff $965,000 for 'movie placements' of which $687,500 relates to special 'movie placements.'" —1983 Brown & Williamson memo from D.R. Scott to N.V. Domantay
(2) "$7,170Jewelry for Sean Connery
$5,345 Jewelry for Sean Connery
$2,782 Television for Production Mgr.
$4,000 Mr. Kovoloff stated that he would rather not say what this payment was for." -- Brown and Williamson internal document "Exhibit I, AFP Payments"
"And now, challenged on the details, Kovoloff — a pioneer product pitchman who has faced dozens of lawsuits over his business dealings — says that many of the goods never reached the stars. Sean Connery 'never got any jewelry,' he said in a telephone interview last week. 'Paul Newman never got a car. Sylvester Stallone never got a car. Clint Eastwood never got a car. They never got a thing from me.'" — "Tobacco Pitchman Agrees Stars Did Not Receive Gifts," by Myron Levin, Los Angeles Times, June 14, 1994.
"Beginning in 1980, Rogers and Cowan was retained to develop a strong relationship with the television and motion picture industry, and keep the presence of smoking and the RJR brands as an integral part of the industry...

"Today, the presence of cigarettes and smoking situations are considered a vital part of our program. Subliminal reminders are still used. Such things as providing merchandise with brand identification for studio based golf tournaments, prizes for studio picnics, other social gatherings and cast and crew jackets are still effective toward this goal.

"The placement activities continue, but today we are very restrictive as to the story content, the potential audience and other factors that do not subject our placements to negative response, and continue the acceptable smoking which is still a regular part of many viewers' lives.

"We have also developed a strong sampling program, which now provides 188 industry leaders and stars their favorite brands each month. This group provides support to the intention of the program to continue smoking within the industry and within the productions they influence." —1990 memo from Frank Devaney of PR firm Rogers and Cowan to John Dean of RJ Reynolds

"Frank Devaney, director of product placement at Rogers & Cowan, a public relations firm, said Reynolds 'is the one account that I don't pursue any placements for.' He said that when film makers request cigarettes for movies rated 'R' or 'PG-13,' 'I give them product and that's it. ... If they come to me and they want my brand, I'm certainly going to say OK.'" — "'Protect Children Act' Aims to Ban Cigarette Deals in Film," by Myron Levin, Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1989


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