Alex Bogusky Takes Himself to Task for Making Money From Juul

By Patrick Coffee 

CPB’s Alex Bogusky does not like tobacco. This much has been well-established through his work for truth and, more recently, his anti-vaping social media crusade.

In recent posts, he specifically called out marketing efforts by Juul, arguing that its radio ads are misleading and will lead kids to take up tobacco in some form. And they got lots of engagement, because Bogusky is an influential guy.

He called out DDB by name in the video below after we revealed that they had won the brand’s creative review. It has more than 80,000 views to date, which we believe to be pretty good for LinkedIn based on a quick perusal of Tom Goodwin’s timeline.


After the company contacted him to let him know that they don’t target non-smokers and doesn’t want to encourage young smokers, he made a second video that got far more attention. He went so far as to make some suggestions regarding the company’s marketing strategy.

But wait: Alex recently learned, via his financial advisor, that he had recently made some money—more than $0 and less than $50,000, so far closer to the second number—thanks, in part, to Altria’s decision to spend $13 billion for 35 percent of Juul.

Altria, of course, is America’s biggest tobacco company, parent of Philip Morris and maker of Marlboro (in addition to many other cigarette brands). So Bogusky pretty much had to respond.

Here he is, calling on people to make suggestions as to where he and his wife should send the money they can’t keep due to personal principles.

He also engaged with people on LinkedIn, responding to their ideas and explaining that he made the money because he’s “in an investment vehicle that invests in PE funds,” one of which includes Juul.

FWIW, we asked around, and no major holding company has a policy that prohibits its agencies from working for tobacco clients. But we all know many agencies do just that and keep quiet about it.

So one has to give props to Bogusky for sticking to his guns.

Agency PR says he’s looking to turn The Woodshed—which is in the office lobby, btw—into something more like a community via a podcast in which “small brands come in and pitch themselves, then Alex and a guest have 10 minutes to respond with ideas without prep.” Here’s a link.

On the business side, CPB recently won lead creative duties on Columbia Sportwear’s Sorel line and released its first big campaign for Goose Island starring, appropriately, an “advertising savant” named Duane Hackett.