How Tobacco Industry Gets Around Advertising Bans

I got this from a friend in Australia. It seems like a violation of the MSA to me ... and the industry back to its old tricks. Following is a story published detailing how Philip Morris and BAT have been identified as getting around advertising bans by promoting events which feature their products, and building up databases through unwitting co-sponsors; and youth-oriented web-sited which include no mention of PM's involvement. One tactic they used was to set up $2 shelf companies though their advertising agencies, which were used as the front for these activities. This story can also be found at:
(submitted by Stan Glantz)

TOBACCO giant Philip Morris is behind an Internet company set up to run fashionparades and rave parties aimed at teen girls. The company also provides dance parties and Melbourne nightclubs with free go-go dancers decked out in Philip Morris corporate colors.

Anti-smoking lobby group Quit claims the Wavesnet website is an "insidious" attempt to lure young smokers.

There is no indication on the site that Philip Morris owns the trademark.

Visitors to the site are enticed with free offers to become Wavesnet members and attend Wavesnet events. They are asked if they want "fashion action, dance party mayhem and access to new gear before it hits the shops". When they agree to accept free membership, Wavesnet responds in the abbreviated language favored by Net-savvy youngsters.

"u & a friend now have free entry 2 your state's fashion's future designer awards," members are told by e-mail within seconds of joining.

"on the night u get vip status free drinks a bag full of free stuff and u get 2 rub shoulders with australia's top designers."

While entry to the events is supposed to be restricted to those aged 18 and over, a reporter from the Herald Sun posing as a 17-year-old girl was able to join Wavesnet and was immediately sent an e-mail saying the name was at the door and all the girl had to do was "rock up". The national final of the Wavesnet Fashion's Future Designer Awards is at the QBH nightclub in Melbourne on Thursday night.

An INSIGHT investigation has discovered:
TWO of Wavesnet's three directors are also directors of Philip Morris's advertising agent Mojo and the third is a former Mojo director.

WAVESNET company secretary Robert Davies holds the same position at Mojo.

MOJO is responsible for marketing Alpine for Philip Morris, which has annual supermarket sales of more than $100million in Australia.

ONLY two $1 shares in Wavesnet have been sold and both are owned by Publicis Communication, which was described by Wavesnet as Mojo's online and direct marketing division. The Publicis group owns Mojo.

STAKING out raves, P14-15
THE domain name was registered in September this year and its address is listed as Level 5, 55 Southbank Blvd, also Mojo's address.

SOME sponsors of the Wavesnet fashion awards claim they were signed up without being told that Philip Morris was a co-sponsor and that they wouldn't have lent their names if they had known of its involvement.

QUIT staff who went to a recent Wavesnet Melbourne fashion awards night claim they saw patrons taking Alpine cigarettes from an unattended display on the nightclub bar. FOUR Alpine girls were also selling discounted cigarettes at the event, which was attended mainly by young women. PHILIP Morris has been providing Alpine packs for sale with promotional items that appeal to young women, including an item that rave-goers claim is ideal for hiding illegal drugs in.

Those joining the Wavesnet online shopping site have to provide personal details that enable the company to build up a database of the likes and dislikes of its customers. "That sort of information would be extremely valuable to a company like Philip Morris," Quit executive director Todd Harper said. "I would imagine many of the young women who have already joined Wavesnet would be disturbed that their personal details might be used by a cigarette company in a marketing campaign aimed at recruiting new smokers."

Mr Harper believes the Wavesnet events and site are involved in recruiting young smokers, particularly young women. Some angry sponsors pulled out of the fashion awards after being warned about the cigarette company's involvement. Others are considering following suit.

Sanity chief operating officer Daniel Agostinelli said he decided to end his company's sponsorship after the Herald Sun tipped him off about Philip Morris's involvement.

"Obviously it was a youth-driven thing and we thought it could be good for us to get involved, but we had no idea about Philip Morris," Mr Agostinelli said. "That's very, very tricky and we are quite upset about it."

Some fashion award sponsors feel they were conned into lending their good names to the Philip Morris-sponsored events. Other sponsors who claim they were in the dark about Philip Morris's role in the nights until after they had signed up include Bloom, Lipton, Sista and Biba.

Philip Morris spokeswoman Nerida White denied the company was doing anything illegal or unethical in its marketing strategies. Ms White said only those aged over 18 were admitted to the events. "And it is legal to sell cigarettes to people aged 18 and over," she said. "We take fairly strenuous steps to ensure that all of our activities comply with the law."

Wavesnet general manager Dean McBeth confirmed that there were plans to hold dance parties as well as fashion awards nights. Mr McBeth also confirmed that building up a database of members' likes and dislikes was one of the reasons.

source: Todd Harper
Executive Director
Quit - Victorian Smoking and Health Program
100 Drummond Street
Carlton Victoria Australia 3053
Ph.(03) 9635 5522 / Fax.(03) 9635 5510

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