Ad Nut
May 24, 2018

A cowboy croons an anti-smoking message, reluctantly

That ain't the Marlboro Man. And like the tobacco industry, he ain't really sorry.

Now that the world knows the tobacco industry intentionally misled consumers about the dangers of smoking for decades, it seems only appropriate to see the iconography the industry created to sell cigarettes being used in a merciless takedown.

And that's what we have here.

Here's the backstory, as ably reported by Zoë Beery of Campaign US: The tobacco industry this month is making court-ordered media buys in the US to fess up to its misleading past actions, such as systematically suppressing the evidence of harm. This follows the conclusion of a lawsuit the industry fought tooth-and-nail for 11 years. However, as Beery writes:

The industry is following the letter of the ruling—not its spirit. Sure, they’ll air corrective ads in major markets and print them in major outlets, but those ads will be black type on a white background, read in aired spots by a computerized voice. 

In other words, one of the industries that was most responsible, along with its agency partners, for perfecting the art of advertising, and which created some of the most indelible icons in the industry's history, is suddenly doing everything it can to make sure its mea culpa is so boring it gets ignored. In addition, because the ruling was originally made in 2006, it mandates TV and print buys, thereby missing the digital channels where the intended audience for the message (18- to 24-year-olds) now spends most of its time. 

In hopes of remedying the situation, anti-smoking advocacy group Truth Initiative worked with CollegeHumor (and a production company that makes actual country-music videos) on the above spoof song, featuring a cowboy who—like the industry he represents—is not sincerely sorry about anything.

Ad Nut shares this with you because Ad Nut enjoys a good skewering. But Ad Nut also hopes this video might prompt a few agency leaders in Asia to think about the ad industry's long association with the tobacco industry. An association that of course continues to this day—and moreso in this part of the world.

For example, it took Ad Nut only a minute to find this recent ad for Indonesian company Gudang Garam's Surya Pro brand. It not only associates the tobacco brand with athleticism (a sin one of Ad Nut's editors has decried before) but also ends with a tagline that is simply astonishing in its outrageousness.

Got that smokers? You must 'Never quit'. After all, the tobacco industry's health depends on it!

Ad Nut despairs that agencies continue to assist, and profit from, this ghoulish, deadly business, when they could instead take a stand. To misquote another famous tobacco campaign, 'We've (not) come a long way, baby'. 

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. Check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


Campaign Asia

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