Smoke and Mirrors
The recent article by Barbara Lippert, describing how Philip Morris asked Young & Rubicam to produce a $100 million campaign aimed at curbing youth smoking, is distressing and depressing [Critique, Dec. 14]. You’re familiar with Y&R, aren’t you? It’s an agency that has created cigarette advertising for the past 50 years. Statistics show that the majority of teens who smoke are smoking a Philip Morris brand. So this advertising has been partially responsible for helping to addict an estimated 3,000 kids daily.
Critics have questioned Philip Morris’ motives. The campaign clearly will have a greater impact on improving the tobacco company’s image than on reducing teen smoking. Others have criticized the campaign’s direction–encouraging kids not to give into peer pressure. The tagline, “Think, don’t smoke,” is about as lame an advertising message as I’ve ever seen. Anti-tobacco activists contend that a positioning that shocks teens regarding the consequences of smoking is more effective.
It’s not surprising the agency that spent years producing effective cigarette advertising has come up with a anti-smoking campaign that will probably fail. After creating ads to secure “replacement smokers,” it’s got to be difficult to create work that attempts just the opposite.
Y&R is listed as the agency of record for Parliament and other Philip Morris brands. If Philip Morris were serious about discouraging teen smoking, it would have given the assignment to an agency for which the prospect of tobacco advertising is totally abhorrent. That way, the subject of teen smoking prevention would have been treated far differently; the work would have been more relevant and persuasive.
I just hope the campaign was done on a pro bono basis. And if the agency was paid, then it shouldn’t make any of us in the “profession” wonder why advertising people are ranked slightly above car salesmen in credibility.
Fred Goldberg
Chairman, CEO
Goldberg Moser O’Neill,
San Francisco

Divine Intervention
As a woman, I’m compelled to write about an item in Takes [Dec. 7]. The piece, titled “God Among the Girls,” begins, “Perhaps this year, Time magazine’s Man of the Year should be God.”
Perhaps Mark Dolliver should take a step back from the precipice of his own testosterone-driven ego before he falls into the void. God is not a man. Nor is God a woman. God is God.
Julie Shy
Calabasas, Calif.

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