John Oliver Explains Why No One Will Admit to Marketing Deadly Products

Big Tobacco has to put its money somewhere...

In case you missed it, John Oliver’s Sunday Last Week Tonight segment on the tobacco industry was an eye-opener — especially coming, as it did, in the wake of a study which found that smoking is even deadlier than previously thought.

The segment, which is really worth 18 minutes of your time if you haven’t seen it, took us back to a couple of posts we wrote last fall.

First, we heard from several sources in September that a South Carolina/New York-based marketing agency had lost the RJ Reynolds/Camel account. Finding evidence of the agency’s past work for the client was difficult, because most of it involved “[penetrating] the underground hipster scene” via sponsored events rather than visible campaigns. (As we know, tobacco marketing is very strictly regulated.)

Multiple contacts confirmed that the agency had lost the business to one of the world’s largest marketing/advertising/PR organizations…but no one at the latter firm would confirm this to us despite the fact that RJR remains a massive global account.

Oliver’s segment shows us exactly why that’s the case.

Our prediction: these companies will continue to hire agencies…which will in turn continue to hide their new business wins from the press and the public. It’s the circle of life.