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Nets React to Teen Tobacco Talk

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Crispin, Arnold Ads Drive Traffic to Web Site
WASHINGTON, D.C.--A voyeuristic foray into the bedrooms of teenagers, who are shown answering e-mail received on 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--by Arnold Communications in Boston and Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami, with graphic elements by Stiletto Design in New York--is meant to drive more traffic to Legacy's Internet site, said Arnold 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 states in one spot. In "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 of Jennifer Ringley, who designed a site called JenniCAM.
"It is a lot like JenniCAM in that it is an exhibitionist view into a kid's room," Favat said.
Legacy representative William Furmanski said the spots are directed against tobacco use, not smokers.
"The teens react to the letters in ways that are not judgmental," Furmanski said.
Six spots will be on TV; seven more will be on the Web site. Two spots, "Clay" and "Mike," will run this week on NBC, Fox and cable.
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." A NBC official was unavailable for comment.
Negative reaction from the 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.
The issue of marketing tobacco to teenagers once again sparked controversy last week. 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.
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 Philip Morris representative Tom Ryan. "The settlement agreement preserved our right to market responsibly. K