An employee of Philip Morris
[Click on image to enlarge]
Una ensalada cambió la vida de Doris

[A salad changed Doris' life]
Are you aware of who sponsores this ad? What a picture of health. Look at Doris. Notice how she's dressed in white, surrounded by beautiful colors from a fresh, garden salad. What a smile!

This ad comes from Philip Morris. How ironic! Philip Morris, makers of world famous Marlboro cigarettes. The most popular cigarette brand in history; the most successful from a business standpoint. Philip Morris has made billions of dollars selling their ADDICTIVE cigarettes. The result, in the U.S. alone, over 450,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related illnesses. Yet here is Doris, a Philip Morris employee, promoting a healthy lifestyle.

"Philip Morris is the most controversial company. It is probably also one of the most fine-tuned consumer-product companies on Earth today. It's just an incredible, awesome cash machine. We look at the litigation as being around for the foreseeable future. In 1999, when they had some adverse [lawsuits] come to the forefront, people wouldn't own it, wouldn't even touch it. Still, the business kept on getting better, not worse. We feel very comfortable saying the company's going to be worth more five years from now than it is today. That's even assuming that we're going to lose some lawsuits."
'Clipper' fund manager Michael Sandler
Wall Street Journal, 3.15.01

Things Are Changing at Philip Morris... Yeah, right!
The company states publicly that things are changing. They spend millions of dollars on a television and media campaign to tell America about this (see related story). This is another lie furthered by the world's largest producer of tobacco. For over 40 years, Philip Morris and the other major tobacco companies, deceived the world about the health risks associated with smoking -- not only did the tobacco companies know about the dangers, they actively worked to obfuscate the medical and scientific findings coming from reputable sources.

As recently as 1994, the tobacco industry executives stood before the U.S. Congress and testified UNDER OATH that cigarettes were not addictive. If you missed this, or have forgotten, see the New York Times story [p1], [p2] or [PDF version (374k) which is a bit easier to read] or a Wall Street Journal article [p1] (both come from the Philip Morris online document archive). Nicotine, found in tobacco products and manipulated by the cigarette makers, is highly addictive.

Injected heroin get to the brain in about 15 seconds and gives the user a quick "hit." Nicotine from tobacco smoke gets there even faster. It takes about seven seconds to travel from the lungs to the brain. Over 80% of all smokers become hooked on tobacco when they are children or young teens. Each day in the U.S., 3,000 underage young people become addicted to smoking. The majority of these individuals fall prey to Philip Morris products -- primarily Marlboro cigarettes. Doris, the smiling Philip Morris employee in the advertisement highlighted above, fails to mention Philip Morris' role in the devastation of America's youth.

Due to the efforts of pro-health advocates, medical and scientific researchers, the truth about tobacco is filtering into our society. This has pissed off many people. They are angry with companies like Philip Morris (makers of Marlboro, Virginia Slims and others) and RJ Reynolds (producers of Camel).

In our tobacco industry research, found an internal document showing that Philip Morris (PM) hired consultants [The Wiirthlin Group] in 1993 to study their public image. PM executives were not pleased with the findings (see Table below). People do not like Philip Morris -- they do not like the tobacco companies in general. Yet people do have fairly positive feelings about Kraft Foods; they are relatively positive about the Miller Brewing Company. Once Philip Morris learned this, they stopped talking about their relationship to Marlboro and other tobacco products -- of course, they still advertise to young people, but they try to highlight their ties to Kraft and Miller.

Kraft General Foods
General Mills
RJR Nabisco
Miller Beer
Philip Morris
* 1 to 10 point scale

As the table above illustrates, Philip Morris comes in DEAD LAST when respondents were asked to rate the company's credibility. This is due to the fact they are responsible for so many DEATHS. Take another look at Doris and the ad above, see what we mean? Philip Morris is trying to align themselves with Kraft and Miller. They hope you will forget their ties to tobacco.

In a 1993 report for Philip Morris (view complete PDF file [764k]), we learn the tobacco giant hired Landor Associates, who are "Identity Consultants and Designers Worldwide," to assist in re-defining the Philip Morris image (view relevant individuals pages [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] & [6]).

The documents shows Philip Morris "has elected to adopt a new corporate name and image to launch a positive repositioning campaign" as their "current image is that of tobacco based company." The problems for PM is that "as awareness of tobacco issues increase, Philip Morris increasingly reacts/defends" and "as 'tobacco' image of Philip Morris increases, market value of Philip Morris decreases" [3].

Buying Legitimacy
Have you heard how Philip Morris supports community programs, such as the food bank in Houston, Texas? They advertise this proudly (view their advertisement [255k PDF format]). In this corporate promotion titled, 'I HELP HUNGRY PEOPLE GET FRESH AND WHOLESOME FOOD. AND THAT JUST FEELS GOOD,' they fail to mention their ties to tobacco.

How about Philip Morris sponsorship of the Houston Read Program? In a document titled, 'HOUSTON READ COMMISSION STATEMENT RE: TOBACCO SPONSORSHIP,' we see the industry leader attempt to promote their corporate good will -- they thank themselves for helping all "those who will benefit from this generour offer."

How about the millions of dollars Philip Morris contributes to political parties? In a 1990 letter (OKLAHOMA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONTRIBUTIONS) to Pete White, Chaiman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, we get a glimpse of industry action in the political arena. Note how Jack Dillard, Regional Director for Government Affairs with Philip Morris, describes his company's role as a good corporate citizen: "You may be interested to know that our operations in Oklahoma last year generated over $80 million in state and federal taxes and contributed over $15 million in payroll to the state's economy. We also made purchases in Oklahoma totalling over $39 million."

As a result of Philip Morris operations in Oklahoma for 1990, approximately 6,000 residents of the state died a tragic, and in many cases, a horribly painful and suffering death, after battling a lifetime of addition, disease and illness linked to Philip Morris products. As we see in this document, Jack Dillard uses a "green felt tip pen" to evaluate Philip Morris corporate performance -- measuring only the dollar amounts of his company's contribution to Oklahoma.

UPDATE: Harris Interactive Survey Indicates Fragility of Corporate Reputations

Source: The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition (Feb 7, 2001)

Some argue there are approximately 1.4 million deaths in the U.S. due directly to tobacco. Furthermore, Marlboro cigarettes, produced by the Philip Morris company, is the #1 cause of death in the US, Mexico, Canada, and probably Europe, since it is the #1 brand.

For years, Caleb Shulman loved Kraft macaroni and cheese and Miller Lite beer. Then he watched Philip Morris Cos.' $100 million-plus corporate advertising campaign touting its support of programs to feed the hungry and help victims of domestic violence -- and he learned, much to his surprise, that Philip Morris makes both the macaroni and the beer.
The Champion of Philip Morris

"Now, I refuse to buy any more Kraft or Miller products," says the 37-year-old interpreter for the deaf at the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology. "Whenever I see the ads, I cringe. They're only running the ads to try to gain credibility because of all the smoking-related lawsuits."

How does a company mend a broken reputation? Not easily is the answer, judging by the responses of people like Mr. Shulman to the second annual corporate-reputation survey conducted by Harris Interactive Inc.

Despite the costly ad campaign, Philip Morris still receives low marks on trust, respect and admiration. Moreover, 16% of respondents familiar with the company said they had boycotted its products in the past year. What did change significantly was the public's awareness of its philanthropic deeds -- about 40% of people familiar with Philip Morris now give it a strong rating for supporting good causes, compared with just 10% in 1999.

  • "Admit they [Philip Morris] sell a product that kills people and cooperate with the government to regulate that product and keep it out of the hands of youth."
  • "Apologize for all the harm it [Philip Morris] has done in selling an addictive substance."
  • "Find a way to remove all addictive qualities from their [Philip Morris] products immediately."
  • "The name Philip Morris is associated with cigarettes instead of their other products. It might be better to change the name."

Philip Morris didn't respond to the consumer suggestions.

Harris Poll Confirms Active Support for Boycott of Philip Morris: Public is Rejecting Image Makeover by Kraft's Parent Company

BOSTON-According to a poll released today by Harris Interactive and the Reputation Institute, Philip Morris' $100 million-plus image advertising campaign has not only failed to boost the tobacco giant's reputation, it may even be fueling a growing boycott targeting its Kraft Foods division.

Sixteen percent of respondents familiar with Philip Morris said they had boycotted its products over the past year. The corporate accountability organization Infact, whose Nestlé and General Electric Boycotts secured major changes in the behavior of those corporations, is behind the current Kraft Boycott-pressuring Philip Morris to stop promoting tobacco to youth with tactics like the Marlboro Man, and to stop interfering in public health policy.

"The Harris poll numbers fire a sharp warning to Philip Morris. Such a high level of active involvement in a consumer boycott is groundbreaking, and demonstrates massive potential for expanding the pressure on Philip Morris to end abuses such as the Marlboro Man-arguably the world's largest source of youth tobacco addiction," says Infact Executive Director Kathryn Mulvey. "Philip Morris having a bad reputation is not news, but the failure of a comprehensive and expensive public relations campaign to change people's minds reveals an irreversible credibility problem. It is doubtful that any PR firm could improve this corporation's image, based on its horrible record of destroying millions of people's lives, which it continues to do. Philip Morris took a gamble by highlighting its ownership of Kraft, and has inspired widespread consumer revolt," says Ray Rogers, Director of Corporate Campaign and an expert on consumer boycotts.

The launch of the "Working to Make a Difference" ad campaign in October 1999 marked a sharp departure from Philip Morris's longtime strategy of publicly downplaying Kraft's connection to tobacco. Internal corporate documents released through litigation show that Philip Morris knew from its own polling that linking the corporate names would benefit Philip Morris, but harm Kraft. Caleb Shulman, a respondent in the Harris poll, said that having seen the image ads, "Now I refuse to buy any more Kraft or Miller products. Whenever I see the ads, I cringe. They're only running the ads to try to gain credibility..."

Philip Morris increased its spending on corporate advertising by 800% from 1998 to 1999, and that trend continued in the first half of 2000 with $142 million in expenditures on ads designed to improve its image with the public and policymakers. Yet the Harris poll affirms the analysis of marketing expert Charyn Sutton in the documentary film Making a Killing: Philip Morris, Kraft and Global Tobacco Addiction, produced last year for Infact by AndersonGold Films. Referring to the Philip Morris image ads, Sutton predicted, "I think that ultimately this campaign will backfire. You can't say enough good things to make up for all the damage that Philip Morris has done."

The cost of this futility will be even greater than the hundreds of millions shelled out for the ads: according to the Reputation Institute, a company's reputation is estimated to account for as much as 40% of its total market value. Such data helps explain why boycotts can achieve their objectives with only a small proportion of consumers actively participating. The late Cesar Chavez, leader of the United Farm Workers, found that boycotts work when they enjoy 5% support. As Philip Morris aggressively expands its tobacco business internationally, the Harris figures demonstrate the US public's fundamental distrust and disrespect for this corporation. "With the Marlboro cowboy, Philip Morris pushes its cigarettes as an emblem of American ideals," says Mulvey. "But growing numbers of people in the US are actively resisting the expansion of this preventable epidemic, through the Kraft Boycott. And Philip Morris has become a major target of the worldwide grassroots movement to prev! ent globalization that puts corporate interests ahead of the public interest," she concludes.

Source: Suren Moodliar
International Organizer
mailto: Suren Moodliar
tel:01-617-695-2525; fax 01-617-695-2626
46 Plympton Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02118, USA

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