Dec. 4 1997
Washington, DC - Tobacco manufacturer Brown & Williamson (B&W) has launched one of the boldest schemes yet to use hip, ethnic themes and sex appeal to target teenagers and young people for tobacco addiction. Telling kids that smoking its Kool brand cigarettes will make them "cool," the advertising campaign manipulates young peoples’ insecurities to "fit in" with their peers. Today, the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS sounded its December Tobacco Smoke Alarm on B&W’s new "B Kool" ad campaign for its blatant attempt to increase revenues by hooking more young people on the mentholated Kool product. "Following in the footsteps of Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man, Brown & Williamson is trying to wedge into the youth market with these sexy and inviting new advertisements," said Bill Novelli, CAMPAIGN president. "With companies like Philip Morris, U.S. Tobacco and RJ Reynolds increasingly using sensuality and music to sell tobacco to kids, Brown & Williamson is looking to get a piece of the action. This new campaign is one of the strongest indications yet that the tobacco industry is making sex appeal a central theme in its youth marketing, and B&W clearly understands that by snaring young people, it will obviously reach kids." The "B Kool" ads, which often feature sensual and alluring female models, are indicative of a disturbing trend in tobacco marketing designed to lure young people into a harmful, potentially deadly addiction. B&W is trying to take advantage of this trend and bolster revenues from this tobacco product with a scheme to create a young, hip image that will be attractive to teenagers and young people from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. "In a blatant attempt to fight for their piece of the teen and youth market, Brown & Williamson is the latest tobacco marketer to create a young new image for its cigarettes," said the Rev. Jesse Brown, acting executive director of the National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery (NAAAPI). "This campaign, which has a very identifiable ethnic theme, is the latest attempt to go after those kids who have been resistant to smoking so far. Our neighborhoods and streets are now littered with the ‘B Kool’ message telling kids that they’ve got to light up in order to fit in, be sexy, and attract members of the opposite sex," he added. The campaign for Kool, B&W’s premier mentholated cigarette brand, raises the bar for the blatant niche market targeting of youth. One new billboard ad shows a smiling young woman sitting on the edge of a pool table. Her gaze is focused on a man who is just out of the picture -- a foreground closeup of his hand holding a burning cigarette and a box of Kool cigarettes is the only part of him that is visible. As with all of the new Kool ads, "B Kool" is stamped in the corner of the ad, a clear implication that Kool will make young smokers more appealing to others. "To promote the idea that smoking Kool cigarettes is sexy or will help you meet people is ridiculous," Novelli continued. "As if growing up these days isn’t hard enough, these ads are adding the pressure of smoking to the already difficult struggle that teens and young people have trying to fit in and find their place among their peers." Ads from the Kool campaign are appearing nationwide on billboards, bus shelters, and on the pages of many popular magazines with high youth readership, such as Details, Rolling Stone, Spin and Vibe. "This new effort to tell kids that they should smoke cigarettes in order to ‘B Kool’ and attract those of the opposite sex demonstrates why we need tough restrictions on the way tobacco companies pander to kids," NAAAPI’s Brown continued. "Even with all of the negative publicity tobacco companies have received for going after teens and youngsters, they continue to launch aggressive new marketing schemes. Only through a comprehensive national tobacco control plan will we ever be able to truly bring this trend to a halt, and protect our children from deadly tobacco addiction." The Tobacco Smoke Alarm is sounded monthly and is aimed at exposing the tobacco industry's efforts to sell more of its products to children directly through clever marketing -- and indirectly through its efforts to buy political influence. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS can be reached by email at: TobaccoSmokeAlarm@TobaccoFreeKids.org. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation's attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children, and making tobacco less accessible to kids.