Earlier this year Philip Morris said it wanted to stop making traditional cigarettes. Today in Cannes company officials said they need help from the creative world in convincing consumers to consider alternatives to cigarettes like e-cigarettes, vape pens, which the firm also manufactures.
There’s a lot of debate about how less dangerous such alternative products actually are to an individual’s health and a number of ad executives attending the Festival say they’d be hesitant to align with PMI, regardless of the mission. They don't want to participate in what they see as a financially motivated pivot wrapped around PR.
One group has already been enlisted—European firm Emakina Group, has agreed to support PMI’s initiative to promote the benefits of a “smoke-free world.”
Many advertising companies refuse to work with any tobacco firms given the known dangers of the product and the fear of a consumer backlash.
“People who smoke deserve information about better alternatives” said Jacek Olczak, COO, PMI. “The media industry can play an important role in making this happen, including by championing this initiative…Quitting tobacco and nicotine remains the best option for smokers, but for those who don’t, science-based non-combustible alternatives are a better choice than continuing to use cigarettes.”
Some skepticism might arise from the fact that for decades tobacco companies used “science” to hawk cigarettes, often using doctors to recommend health benefits in ads.
Still, that’s not deterring PMI. “We are asking the creative community to join us in raising awareness of the potential of science, technology and innovation for those who smoke and the people around them," says Marian Salzman, senior vice president, communications, PMI during an address at the PMI Science Lounge at Cannes.
Most Cigarette advertising has been banned in the U.S. for decades.