Ben Williams

Stir the Senses

Stir the senses. Unleash the fury. Which slogan is for a cigarette ad, and which slogan is for a movie? Can't tell the difference? That seems to be exactly what tobacco company R.J. Reynolds had in mind.

The main goal of cigarette ads is obviously to get people to smoke cigarettes, but often young people are the target audience. In the past, companies have used several controversial methods to sell their product to teens and children, such as using a cartoon mascot like Joe Camel or advertising in magazines like Rolling Stone, which is read largely by young people.

Of course, anti-smoking campaigns have caught on to the strategies of cigarette companies and in 1997, R.J. Reynolds, the company that makes Camel cigarettes, was no longer allowed to use Joe Camel as its mascot. In 1998, tobacco companies signed the Master Settlement Agreement, which among other things, banned them from advertising to youth. And while a proposed ban on billboard advertisements has been ruled a violation of first amendment rights, in 2002, R.J. Reynolds was fined 20 million dollars for placing their ads in magazines such as Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated, which have a high teen readership.

Despite publicly agreeing to not advertise to youth, it seems like tobacco companies just can't stop looking for young new customers. But just when we thought we had them down for the count with the 20 million dollar fine and anti-smoking campaigns like The Truth and all those gross pictures of peoples' lungs and throats, a new scheme has been unveiled.

Earlier this year, my Video Production teacher at Sammamish High School in Bellevue, Washington, Jerry De Pinto, came across a couple of ads in which he saw an uncanny similarity. One was for Salem Cigarettes.

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