Tobacco giant Philip Morris' $100 million corporate-image campaign has done little to improve public opinion, an internal memo shows.
The company, which also owns Kraft and Miller, broke the campaign in October as part of an effort to communicate more openly with the public. PM also launched a Web site recently that revealed a link between smoking and cancer.
The spots, by Leo Burnett, Chicago, focus on the company's good deeds. One tells the tale of workers at a Miller plant filling bottles with water instead of beer to aid a flood-ridden town. Another features an elderly woman in St. Paul, Minn., thanking PM for its donations to a local food bank.
But a poll of 1,000 Americans, conducted in December, found a six-point increase in favorable ratings since May, which the memo states was not a "significant change" over the past nine months.
"We are encouraged by what we are seeing, but it is early yet," said Peggy Roberts, a PM representative. "We are looking at a number of different measurements."
Tobacco critics countered that the results of the poll reveal the public's disgust with Big Tobacco. "The public has wised up to the fact that Philip Morris knowingly sells a product that kills people," said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco.
PM officials said there are no plans to cancel the campaign.
Wendy Melillo, ADWEEK. March 13, 2000.
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