Nets Cry Foul Over Anti-Cig Ads

Concerns About Creative Could Postpone $150-225 Mil. Launch
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Complaining that the creative unfairly attacks safe products, such as sneakers, some networks requested major changes in the American Legacy Foundation’s anti-tobacco spots before airing them.
NBC, ABC and CBS have all rejected the initial storyboards submitted to the networks for approval by Arnold Communications and Crispin Porter & Bogusky, sources said. The concern could delay the debut of the $150-225 million campaign, called, “Truth,” scheduled to air this week.
One ad, targeted at teens, compares acne medicine to tobacco, network sources said. In it, the viewer is asked to imagine what it is like to apply a zit cream that causes facial skin to fall off, leaving just burn marks and exposed bone. The message is that tobacco causes the
same effects. Such products as cars and sneakers are used similarly.
“While we are not uncomfortable at all with broadcasting anti-smoking messages, the specific creative at this early stage is problematic,” explained Rick Gitter, NBC vice president of advertising standards and program compliance.
Chuck Wolfe, executive vice president at Legacy here, declined to comment on campaign specifics. ABC officials also declined comment. CBS confirmed “the advertising is under review.”
Fox Networks raised only one issue, the depiction of a teenager smoking, for fear it would glamorize smoking, said a representative at the network.
Fox had additionally screened the concepts involving the acne cream, sneakers and cars, and “did not have a problem” with those, said the representative.
The networks may worry that such anti-tobacco messages could offend other advertisers, observers said. To that point, Wolfe said: “If you believe the networks are concerned about their advertising to protect other advertisers, you are putting millions of American youth at risk.”
Arnold media director John Gaffney said the differences would be overcome. “Look, our job is
to be edgy,” he explained. “The networks’ bureau of standards’ job is to be conservative. We don’t always match.”

Publish date: January 24, 2000 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT