Chicago Tribune Turns Down Ad Urging the Leo Burnett Ad Agency to Stop Cigarette Advertising Work -- Newspaper Protects Ad Agency Giant From Advice to "Kick the Tobacco Habit" and Drop Philip Morris as a Client

Sep. 15 1997

Washington, DC - Tobacco interests won a new ally last Friday, as The Chicago Tribune refused to print an advertisement urging the Leo Burnett Co. to cease advertising for cigarette-maker Philip Morris. The ad by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids was slated for the op-ed page of Tuesday's Tribune. Exhorting Burnett management to "Do Right by America's Kids and Kick the Tobacco Habit for Good," the ad was to appear just as Burnett held a companywide meeting Tuesday to discuss refashioning the agency in the wake of major client defections. Philip Morris is Burnett's best-known remaining client. "As the Leo Burnett Co. embarks on new directions, the message in our ad is something that every Burnett employee and manager needs to hear," said William D. Novelli, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the largest initiative outside of government to protect children from tobacco addiction. The ad, which may be viewed and downloaded on the Internet at slackcom.com/tobaccofree, says Burnett's decades-long work for Philip Morris has meant that "60 percent of all American kids who smoke choose Marlboro." Some 3,000 kids become regular smokers every day, and a third end up dying from their tobacco addiction. "Leo Burnett has an opportunity on Tuesday to do the right thing," said Novelli. "But the Tribune missed its opportunity by shielding Burnett, a conduit for major advertising dollars, from our advice." After having initially agreed to run the ad, the Tribune's advertising department pulled the ad Friday morning, saying in a written statement that it "does not meet our principles for advertising acceptability." Later on Friday, a Tribune media relations spokesperson, refusing to make these advertising principles public and referring to the Tribune as a "private corporation," called the ad "negative advertising." "We strongly disagree with and are disappointed by the Chicago Tribune's decision to reject our advertisement," said Novelli. "Fortunately, the American public today has the Internet, and anyone interested in viewing the ad that the Chicago Tribune didn't want them to see can do so quite easily." Note to Editors and Reporters: View or download ad at http://www.slackcom.com/tobaccofree Receive ad by fax or as a camera-ready B&W slick by calling Gary Slack (312)527-5243 (days) (847)446-9005 (evenings) Interview Bill Novelli, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, (202)296-5469 (days) (301)469-6325 (evenings) Intercept 2,000+ Leo Burnett employees, while walking two blocks from 35 West Wacker Drive headquarters to company meeting at Chicago Theater from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 9/16 Receive copy of letter to Chicago Tribune publisher Scott Smith from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids by calling Gary Slack (312)527-5243 (days) (847)446-9005 (evenings) Receive copy of letter to Leo Burnett Co. employees from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids by calling Gary Slack (312)527-5243 (days) (847)446-9005 (evenings)

 

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