Disturbing? Ads for cigarettes worse than those aimed at kids?

I know this will be a somewhat controversial post, because I know some who really do think cigarettes come from the devil, but I’m sure if you read the whole post, you may at least understand where I’m coming from. (yes, I know, ending a sentence with a preposition…   tut-tut)  

Compare these two stories from MediaPost

Reynolds Halts Controversial Promotion
PROMO Magazine
A promotion that angry critics said encouraged smoking combined with heavy drinking has been discontinued by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. The promotion raised the ire of three state attorneys general, as well as public advocacy groups. Called “Drinks on Us,” the promotion included mailed birthday greetings to young adults containing drink coasters, branded for Camel cigarettes, that encouraged the consumption of well-known alcohol brands including Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Finlandia Vodka, Kahlua, Bacardi Limón and Bailey’s via recipes and slogans such as: “Layer it on. Go ‘Til Daybreak,” “Mix Three Shots Together Over Ice, then Make Sure You’re Sittin'” and “Pour Over Ice, Then Let it Burn.” The promotion began January or February of 2005 and was scheduled to end next April, said R.J. Reynolds spokesperson Maura Payne. One of the complaining attorneys general, New York’s Eliot Spitzer, called the campaign “a complete abomination.  Virtually every parent in America knows what it is like to anxiously wait for a child to come home from a night out with friends, worrying that someone will be drinking and driving. Now R.J. Reynolds–apparently not satisfied just selling its own deadly products–is encouraging individuals to ‘celebrate’ their birthdays by abusing alcohol. It is just shameful.” 

and 

Compromise Reached In FCC Rules On Kids’ Ads
Ad Age
A compromise has been reached in the battle over advertising to children that had pitted marketers who target kids and the media companies who run their ads on one side against advocacy groups and the federal government on the other. The fight was over new Federal Communications Commission curbs designed to limit the impact of advertising on kids’ TV shows and the Internet. The original FCC proposal would have forced broadcasters to start counting program promotions in shows aimed at children under 13 against commercial limits of 12 minutes per hour on weekdays and 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends, essentially reducing ad time. In addition, media companies would have been banned from showing Web addresses linking to pages in which program characters sold products. Finally, the rule would have limited broadcasters’ ability to preempt children’s programming. Under the compromise agreement, broadcasters can run program promotions in kids’ shows without counting them against commercial time, but only if the promotions are for other kids’ shows. In another change, the ban against host characters selling products on Web sites is far less stringent. 

Someone want to tell me why marketing booze and cigs to adults is NOW such a huge problem?  I mean, I’ve been forced to endure half-naked beautiful women bouncing up and down for Coors, Miller, Budwieser, etc. for years.  And, unless I’m blind (shut up) these women and the guys in the same commercials all are under 25.  Why is it when they add the cigarettes, we have to hear what an abomination the ads are?  Now, finally, the cigarettes are going to cause drunk driving to go up?  Now, I’m not a drinker nor a smoker, but I find the double-standard here ironic, to say the least.  Especially when you compare the cave-in by the media companies involved to the kids story that follows it. 

The FCC had some issues with kids getting more than 12 minutes per hour of ads?  I’d love for them to make a law that would limit ads to adults too! LOL  

But, seriously, is there a reason to cram more than twenty-four 30-second advertising spots per hour at our kids (not counting, apparently, the ads that advertise kids’ shows)?  The entire article shows how the FCC caved to the demands of the marketers. 

I’m a marketer, but I’m also a parent.  These stories are a sad commentary of misplaced public pressure.  Tobacco is the evilest, most vile and deadly substance known to man, according to the public, but alcohol (unless paired with tobacco) gets a clean bill of health.  And, since no one is really paying attention to little kids’ advertising at the moment, they can cram whatever crap they’re selling down their throats, until some parents’ group or campaigning senator starts to make noise about it. 

Sorry to rant, but this just drives me nuts!  Can’t we find some way to market, morally?  I’m not saying we have to junk all alcohol, cigarette, and even kids’ ads, but isn’t there a point where, without the government’s help, a station can say, “Well, the current number of ads on Dora the Explorer is approaching too many.  We can either book your crap product on next week’s Dora’s, or even on the Dora site.  Or, how about sponsoring Little Bill?  He’s got space available.”  

We know, from previous studies (if you press for stats here, I have them, I’m just in too big of a hurry to dig them up right now) that kids watch, no, I mean WATCH, all the ads that are shoved at them.  And, if you have kids, you know that these studies are pretty close to the mark.  Is that why we feel, as marketers, that we must absolutely cram as many ads in there as possible?  Have we considered that, aside from the fact we are interfering with legitimate child-thought on a continual basis, that we may be creating ad-blind adults.  So, when they have real money to spend, and not just mom and dad to whine-persuade, they may see NO ads?  

Flame on… 

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