Legacy Ads Reveal Net Reaction

Arnold, Crispin Porter Creative Seeks to Drive Traffic to Web Site
WASHINGTON, D.C.–A voyeuristic foray into the bedrooms of teenagers, who are shown responding to e-mail received on the Web site thetruth.com, is featured in the next round of creative, breaking tomorrow, from American Legacy Foundation, the national anti-smoking group.
The “Web Letters” campaign–created by Arnold Communications in Boston and Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami, with certain graphic elements designed by Stiletto Design in New York–is meant to drive more traffic to the Legacy’s Web site, said Arnold’s creative director, Pete Favat. The site has received a number of letters from smokers complaining that they also have rights.
“I cannot believe people blame cigarette companies for teens smoking,” a letter used in one spot says. In the commercial, “Clay,” a teenager who volunteers with the “Truth” campaign responds: “Over 80 percent of Big Tobacco’s customers started when they were teenagers. A pretty big coincidence.”
Web cameras are placed in bedrooms, a tactic that resembles the approach taken by Jennifer Ringley, who designed a Web site called JenniCAM.
“It is a lot like JenniCAM in that it is an exhibitionist view into a kid’s room,” Favat said.
Arnold’s Annie Finnegan, copywriter, and Robert Hamilton, art director, worked with the teenagers on the campaign.
Legacy representative William Furmanski said the spots are di-rected against tobacco use, not smokers. “The teens react to the letters in ways that are not judgmental,” he said.
Six spots will appear on TV, and seven more will be on the Web site. Two spots, “Clay” and “Mike,” will run this week on cable, Fox and NBC.
Sources said NBC has raised objections to one upcoming ad, in which a tobacco-industry executive is quoted as saying: “If kids don’t like secondhand smoke, they can get up and leave the room, and if you are a baby, you can learn how to crawl.” An NBC official could not be reached for comment.
Negative reaction from the major networks toward the edgier creative has prompted Legacy to focus this round of creative on its Web site.
“Our plan is to take thetruth.com and turn it into our own little TV station where kids can go,” Favat said.
More than one million people have visited the Web site since it launched in February, and about 1,500 have registered comments.
Anna Santiago, 17, from Highland Park, Ill., who appears in one of the ads, said the purpose is to make the Web site a key communications tool for teenagers. She also said that unlike the tobacco companies, teenagers who work with the campaign are ready to answer “the tough questions.”
“I respond to a girl who complains that people shouldn’t blame tobacco companies for making people smoke,” Santiago said. “I believe there is a correlation between tobacco-industry ads and teen smoking.”
The issue of marketing tobacco advertising to teenagers once again sparked controversy last week.
Two studies released by Legacy and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that tobacco companies have significantly increased magazine advertising aimed at children, despite agreeing to reduce overall cigarette advertising in the Master Settlement Agreement with 46 states.
One study said that tobacco advertising in magazines read by 15 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds increased by nearly $30 million from the first three quarters of 1998 to the first three quarters of 1999.
“They committed to getting advertising out of the face of adolescents and proceeded to purchase space in magazines targeted at adolescents,” said Legacy president Cheryl Healton.
Greg Connolly, director of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program, said the results of the studies have been forwarded to the Attorneys General to determine if the MSA has been violated.
Philip Morris countered that its overall ad buys since the agreement have declined by 30 percent, although it said its advertising in magazines had increased.
“We take these allegations very seriously,” said PM representative Tom Ryan. “The settlement agreement preserved our right to market responsibly.”
PM has agreed to pull its ads from the back covers of all magazines, but has asked the Attorneys General to adopt an independent review process to develop a standard for tobacco advertising in magazines.
When it comes to measuring readership, “we are not all on the same page,” Ryan said.
The new round of creative comes shortly after Chuck Wolfe, Legacy’s executive vice president, who headed up the group’s advertising efforts, turned in his resignation. K