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Tobacco firms' proposal to Justice Dept. leaves black media out of required ad buys

By Ken Smikle
Target Market News
(January 13, 2014) On Friday, January 10, U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. announced an agreement reached with the nation's tobacco companies that requires the firms to spend tens of millions of dollars in advertising in major media outlets to say they lied about the dangers of smoking.
 
Despite research that showed tobacco companies targeted African-Americans -- especially young blacks -- with promotions and ad campaigns placed with black magazines, newspapers, websites and radio stations, the proposal given to the court does not mandate that the "corrective statements" ads be placed with any black media outlets.
 
The proposed agreement requires that each of the tobacco companies publish full-page ads in the Sunday editions of 35 newspapers and on those newspapers' websites. Among the newspapers cited to receive ads are the New York Times, the New York Post, the Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and the Los Angeles Times.

Additionally, each cigarette maker is required to run 15-second commercials at least once per week between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m between Monday and Thursday on CBS, ABC or NBC five times per week for a year.

Three of the newspaper outlets listed are publishing groups that target Hispanic readers. The use of radio outlets was not mentioned in the filed court documents.

Media buying professionals estimate the cost of fulfilling the proposed plan if approved by the court could range from $30 - $45 million. None of the documents that Target Market News was able to review stipulated which agencies would carry out creative or media buying responsibilities.

The agreement filed in U.S. District Court is the latest development following a 2012 ruling ordering the tobacco industry to pay for corrective statements through advertisements. The companies involved in the case include Altria Group Inc., owner of Philip Morris USA; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., owned by Reynolds American Inc.; and Lorillard Inc.
 
The media agreement must still be approved by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler before going forward, who will meet with all parties again on January 15. The ads will not begin appearing until the tobacco companies have exhausted the appeals process.
 
Jim Winston, Executive Director of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, told Target Market News: "The health of the African American community has suffered disproportionately from the advertising campaigns of the tobacco companies, and Black owned media has been demonstrated to be the best way to engage the African American community. Yet, now that the tobacco companies are being required to educate the public about the harm that tobacco products have caused, the companies and the DOJ have no plan to direct any educational advertising to our communities."

Numerous research studies, including a report from the Centers for Disease Control, found that tobacco companies disproportionately placed cigarette ads in Ebony, Jet, Essence, Black Enterprise and other black magazines when compared to insertions in publications such as Time and People magazines.
 
One particular brand, Newport, gained market success with this strategy. The CDC found that Newport was the most preferred brand of menthol cigarette with 79 percent of black high-school student.

Click here to read the media buying proposal submitted to U.S. District Court under "Proposed Consent Order on Corrective Statements"

Click here to read other related documents



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