Twenty years ago, as a creative director, I helped create a commercial for the Truth campaign to introduce its effort to prevent cigarette smoking by young people. The spot was simply footage of tobacco executives all testifying, “I believe nicotine is not addictive.” All we did was add a laugh track.
The effect of my campaign and others was to help a generation of young people see the tobacco companies as they really were. Companies that lied not just to the government but the public, with misleading ad campaigns aimed at teenagers, their “growth market.”
Now they’re doing it again, but in a new, slick, high-tech guise that is harder to combat. And ad agencies, which had mostly left Big Tobacco’s side, are aiding the effort, lured back in by increasing fees for the work and decreasing fears the public will judge them for it.