American Legacy Extends Anti-Tobacco Efforts

Truth campaign

The American Legacy Foundation is launching the next iteration of its latest campaign, "Do You Have What it Takes to be a Tobacco Exec?" The effort, which is something of a cross between a reality show and "Borat," has real job applicants interviewing for faux jobs at Big Tobacco. Central to the effort is their reaction when they realize they are applying for jobs at companies (un-mentioned) whose products are less than salubrious.

"Do You Have What It Takes?," which launched in June at a mock recruiting office in New York City, is being extended with three new spots -- on TV, in cinemas and at and at

One spot shows a young woman asked by the "recruiter" to do some role-playing on handling customer complaints. The recruiter plays the part of the customer who complains that her company's smokeless tobacco product is responsible for the loss of the lower half of his jaw. The hapless applicant tries to promise that hopefully something can be done to which he says: "Hopefully ... doesn't put my jaw back on." That ad is also the first that deals with smokeless tobacco, which has seen a big boom in product innovations in recent years.



A second spot shows an auditorium full of college students attending a career seminar. The mock recruiter asks them to raise their hands if they want to "work in a high-paying, recession-proof, multibillion-dollar industry once they graduate." All of the hands go up. He then asks them to keep their hands up if they want to work in "an industry that's often in the news for its precedent-setting legal work." None of the hands go down. Then he asks: "Who wants to work in an industry whose products could potentially be responsible for one billion deaths in the 21st century?" All of the hands go down, and a few people even leave.

A companion video, called "Web Phone," shows different candidates' reactions to being placed in the same role-playing situation, further engaging youth and highlighting the overall approach of the "Do You Have What It Takes?" campaign.

The Foundation says the campaign is the result of research it did with Harris Interactive that suggested 82% of teens ages 13-18 would not work for a tobacco company; 71% of them would like to see the cigarette companies go out of business; 75% of teens polled said they believed that cigarette companies lie; 76% believe that cigarette companies should not be allowed to sell a product that harms people; 79% of teens agreed that cigarette companies want teens to believe that smoking is cool; 71% of the teens surveyed felt that cigarette companies do not care whether or not young people smoke.

In addition, VH1 will air truth-related programming throughout the year, one of which features "Charm School with Ricki Lake" contestant Prancer. FuelTV will profile Truth Tour volunteers within its coverage of the AST Dew Tour. The three segments will air in July and August as part of "The Daily Habit" or "The Weekly Update with Boost Mobile."

The Truth Tour participants will also be part of a new effort by the campaign to rename the term "Lung Cancer" to "Big Tobacco Disease" since most lung cancer comes from tobacco products. Tour riders are collecting signatures in support of this effort all summer, and since it launched in late June, more than 40,000 people have signed an online petition.

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