Truth Campaign Stretches Truth Again


OK, OK. We get it. Big tobacco company's suck but trying to apply old demographic assumptions tobacco companies may have made about African Americans in the past to today's African Americans is stretching it a bit but that's the premise of the latest Truth campaign Whadafxup spot. While we dig Truth spokesman Derrick Beckles' new look as he interviews MTV's Nick Cannon, these spots continue to grate.

We're not defending tobacco companies but we're sure if a little digging was done, every company would be guilty of some sort of stereotyping of its audience. After all, marketing isn't about individuality (yet) and the purpose of demographic targeting is to categorize, label and assign certain attributes whether or not those labels correctly reflect the actual brand's customer.

Yes, we absolutely believe tobacco companies labeled African Americans, unable to read, prone to self esteem problems and heavy consumers of 40's but we're also quite sure not so long ago every marketer labeled woman incapable of making a product purchase without the help of their husband, believed all they did was cook and clean all day and thought the only way to advertise to them was through soap operas.

Tobacco marketers may be evil but they aren't stupid. They may have categorized African Americans with a certain harshness at one point in time but, as any smart marketer knows, if your demographic data isn't up to date, your existence is moot. While tobacco companies have had almost insurmountable roadblocks placed in their path, they are still with us and they are still getting us to buy stuff.

Interestingly, almost every Truth Whadafxup commercial prior to this one always applied some very far in the past date to whatever data they were disparaging making it very easy to toss off the whole thing as "that was then, this is now" trickery. Oddly, no date was sited this time around because it would have ruined the argument.

This entire campaign is based on the past mistakes of an industry that was certainly evil in its practices and is using old data from long ago to cloud the current perception of tobacco companies. Again, we're not defending here. Smoking is bad. Smoking kills. No one should smoke. While demographics are a funny thing and, like research, can be twisted in any direction to suit the task at hand, we're not believing tobacco companies in 2007 are still labeling the entire American American population unable to read, prone to self esteem problems and heavy consumers of 40's.

by Steve Hall    May-11-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Campaigns, Commercials, Opinion, Trends and Culture, Worst   

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Wow! Serious, spot-on analysis that doesn't take the easy way out. Good for you Steve! Now, about that copy editing.... ;)

Posted by: ronbo on May 12, 2007 8:51 PM