The Joke Is on Big Tobacco

WASHINGTON — The American Legacy Foundation spoofs the tobacco industry in a new TV commercial that will only run one day: April Fool’s Day.

The 30-second spot opens with a voiceover intended to represent Big Tobacco. “Tobacco industry leaders met and agreed, together, that the time had come to create cigarettes free of poisons, carcinogens and addictive nicotine,” a tobacco executive says as she walks through a laboratory. “These are cigarettes that we can offer the public with confidence and with pride.”

A pack of cigarettes, called “Figment,” then appears as the announcer says, “Get addicted to livin’.” The tagline reads, “April Fool’s.”

The tongue-in-cheek spot, part of Legacy’s ongoing annual $100 million anti-smoking campaign, “Truth,” was created by Arnold and Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The spot will air today on broadcast and cable networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MTV.

Interestingly, the spot continues Legacy’s hard-hitting approach toward tobacco companies, a style that prompted a lawsuit by Lorillard Tobacco Co. The suit, filed in February, accuses Legacy of “engaging in a campaign of vilification against tobacco companies.”

“The suit with Lorillard has not stopped Legacy from creating edgy, exciting ads that grab people’s attention and communicate the real risks of tobacco use,” said Legacy’s COO, Lyndon Haviland. “Teens like things that are funny. And the little gotcha-something unexpected or the ability to communicate a fact in a way that people have not thought of before-is an important piece of our communications strategy.”