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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: Philip Morris launched its first corporate public relations campaign in the U.S. in October of 1999. This was followed by the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) campaign in 2000 describing the terms of the MSA and a Website campaign in 2003 directing viewers to the company's new website. This presentation will describe the amount of television exposure to these campaigns and explore the motivations behind the advertising.
Methods: Commercial ratings data on the Philip Morris campaigns were acquired from Nielsen Media Research. The data were collected in the top 75 media markets for the years 1999 through 2003, covering approximately 80% of the U.S. population. Estimates of monthly levels of exposure to Philip Morris' advertising across media markets and over time were derived from the Nielsen data. The Legacy Tobacco Document Library was accessed to search for relevant industry documents regarding Philip Morris' television campaigns to identify the drive behind the company's advertising.
Results: The Nielsen data indicate that Philip Morris launched major public relations advertising campaigns with large exposures to television audiences across the US. These campaigns surpassed advertising efforts to prevent youth smoking indicating the company's desperation to improve its image. Further, tobacco company documents suggest that public relations campaigns were implemented to improve the company's faltering image, diminish the need of juries to punish the company for past behavior, and increase valuation of the company. These results illustrate the conflict of corporate responsibility between the needs of shareholders and the health of smokers. Can a company that sells cigarettes be socially responsible?