- The Washington Times - Monday, September 3, 2001

Thirty years after the banning of cigarette ads on TV one of the most widely used advertising mediums tobacco marketers are still pulling the smoke over people's eyes.
About 54 percent of smokers ranging from ages 18 to 34 say they've seen a television commercial for cigarettes within the last year, according to a nationwide poll by Eisner Communications of Baltimore.
Another 30 percent say they've seen this type of ad in the last five years.
But that's virtually impossible considering cigarette advertising has been banned from television since 1971.
Cigarettes are also no longer advertised on the radio or outdoors. However, tobacco marketers have found several other ways to get their message to the public.
Smokers say they are solicited through promotional materials, cigarette giveaways or promotional product giveaways at nightclubs or at events and even through the Internet, according to the poll.
In addition marketers use product placements in movies and sponsorships of events like NASCAR to keep their brand top of mind.
"As avenues of marketing have been cut off to tobacco, [tobacco marketers] come up with new ways to surround the consumer," says Michael Rowland, senior vice president at Eisner, which has done a series of polls on consumers' perceptions of advertising. "They are always one step ahead of the barriers that are imposed on their marketing."
The most recent barrier came in 1998 when the tobacco industry ended a slew of health-related lawsuits by agreeing to make annual payments to the states worth $246 billion.
The settlement included restrictions on advertising that might attract teen-agers including bans on billboards and cartoon characters such as R.J. Reynolds' Joe Camel.
Tobacco companies, which still advertise in magazines, spent more than $8 billion on marketing in 1999, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
"With the power they have, the money they have and the creative resources they use it's hard to be one step ahead," says Elizabeth Hlinko, director of corporate communications at the American Lung Association.
"It is natural for consumers to report they saw television advertising for a product even when there wasn't any, due to the residual effect of other forms of promotion," Mr. Rowland says. "This survey shows the insidious advertising we have to combat in order to put forth effective anti-tobacco messages."
Ms. Hlinko says there are some strong anti-smoking efforts in effect today including the $1.5 billion anti-smoking program by the American Legacy Foundation.
The foundation has created some hard-hitting anti-smoking messages including a man, talking with an electronic larynx, disputing whether the tobacco industry had changed.

New wins

In other Eisner news, the Baltimore agency has won International Broadcasting Bureau's Voice of America advertising account, valued at $4 million.
Crosby Marketing Communications in Annapolis has added eHealth Initiative and UltraBridge to its client list. Washington-based eHealth Initiative is a national advocacy group that represents the stakeholders in the health care and technology communities. UltraBridge, based in Towson, Md., provides long-term care companies with information technology services.
Slay Public Relations has been selected by the WaterCraft Group of Yamaha Motor Corp. to provide strategic communications counsel and manage its national consumer media relations campaign for a new Yamaha waverunner.
The Richmond-based public relations firm has also been hired by Shenandoah Shakespeare to provide strategic communications for the grand opening of the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.
BulkRegister.com has chosen Strategic Communications Group, based in Silver Spring, to handle an integrated marketing communications program for the business-to-business domain name registrar.
Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Advertising & Marketing runs every other week.

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