Legacy Cracks Big Tobacco’s Code

ATLANTA The American Legacy Foundation today launched a campaign designed to “expose” the marketing tactics of tobacco companies.

The first TV spot, “Zephyr,” debuted on cable networks popular with young people, including MTV, Comedy Central, G4 Tech TV and BET. In the ad, Derrick Beckles, a satirist for the Canadian Broadcast Corp., visits an oncologist. While sitting on the examination table, he asks if he has “zephyr.” When the doctor doesn’t recognize the term, Beckles explains that it is the code word tobacco companies use for cancer. The doctor replies that there are no euphemisms for cancer.

“Our latest campaign seeks to highlight the absurdities of tobacco industry marketing,” said Cheryl Healton, Legacy president and CEO. “The ‘Truth’ campaign’s success stems from its ability to consistently reach teens in their own language and that’s exactly what we do with our new campaign.”

Arnold in Boston and Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami crafted the ads. Four TV spots were produced, along with radio and print executions and a Web site (www.whudafxup.com).

The client spent $35 million in measured media in 2005, per TNS Media Intelligence. That figure is down more than 50 percent from 2004, and Legacy has increasingly used alternative tactics to communicate its message.

For example, the new ads are supported by a “Truth Tour,” in which Legacy representatives travel to concerts and other youth-oriented events in order to provide information about the dangers of smoking.