Legacy Snuffs Out Challenge

CHICAGO The American Legacy Foundation beat back the last remnant of a challenge from Lorillard Tobacco Wednesday when the Federal Communications Commission ruled in the smoking prevention group’s favor.

The commission dismissed the cigarette maker’s claim that an ad for the “Truth” campaign violated FCC rules by including recordings from telephone conversations.

The offending ad was a radio spot in which a young actor identifying himself as a dog walker called the Lorillard switchboard. He offered to sell the company urine from his dogs to help the company manufacture cigarettes. The prank was based on documents the tobacco industry supplied the federal government listing cigarette ingredients, one of which was urea—a compound found in urine.

“Legacy is grateful that the FCC has dismissed this groundless claim, filed by Lorillard in 2001, so that it can leave this burdensome legal battle behind and continue its mission of building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit,” the Washington-based foundation said in a statement.

Last July, the Delaware Supreme Court struck down Lorillard’s appeal of a state chancery court ruling that determined the ad did not vilify or personally attack tobacco companies or their employees. The maker of Newport cigarettes claimed Legacy violated the Master Settlement Agreement and sought to shut down Legacy by having $1.5 billion that tobacco companies paid to the group since 1998 returned to an escrow account. Lorillard and other MSA signatories—Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Brown & Williamson (which merged with RJR during 2004)—funded “Truth” between 1998 and 2003 as part of an agreement to settle lawsuits from 46 states and five U.S. territories seeking reimbursement of Medicaid payments to smokers.

Havas’ Arnold in Boston and MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami are Legacy’s principal ad agencies. Omnicom’s GSD&M in Austin, Texas, also works on the account.