Legacy’s Loose Cannon

NEW YORK MTV’s Nick Cannon is hit with some startling questions in a new “Truth” anti-smoking spot breaking today from Arnold, Boston, and Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami. Derrick Beckles, the campaign’s roving reporter, asks Cannon if he has self-esteem problems, surrounds himself with 40 oz. bottles of malt liquor and has someone read him his scripts. Cannon is understandably confused, ultimately responding, “Who reads it to me? I read it myself.” Beckles then asks him to prove he can read—and hands him a document that explains the odd line of questioning. According to the document, in the 1980s “tobacco companies labeled African-Americans as less-educated [consumers who] prefer malt-liquor and have problems with their own self-esteem.” Beckles notes that those assessments came from actual tobacco marketing documents. “Pretty sad,” says Cannon. Indeed. And the long-running American Legacy campaign still gives teens some weighty points to ponder. But will they believe such practices still exist—or brush them aside as ancient history?