1. Adults Still Don’t “Get It” on Youth Smoking

1. News Director Sickened by Proposed Hospital Agreement
2. Marketing Drugs for a Disputed Condition
3. How BP Fueled “Emotional Affinity” for Gas
4. Drug Ads Raise Legislators’ Blood Pressure
5. Weekly Radio Spin: Superheroes in Blue Helmets
6. Blair Does a Bank Job
7. Hill & Knowlton’s Maldives Role Still Generating Heat
8. Carbon Offsets: Feel Good Greenwashing?
9. Second UK Energy Consultation Headed for Meltdown
10. Holy International Diplomacy, Batman!
11. Cigarette “Taste Test” Snuffed Out
12. Fake News for the Masses
13. Drug Companies’ R&D Spending Lags Behind Promotion


by Anne Landman
       A recent report issued by the American Lung Association gives
  the State of Virginia a “D” for its youth smoking prevention
  efforts.  The state of Maryland received a similar poor grade.
       Preventing youth smoking has long been an urgent topic for
  public health authorities, since most smokers start by the age of
  18. But the policies that have emerged from that concern have been
  questionable. For example, many cities have enacted laws making it
  illegal for kids to buy or possess tobacco. Under these laws, kids
  caught smoking are given tickets and sentenced to tobacco education
  classes. While the information in these classes is unquestionably
  important, kids simply are not receptive to it when they are forced
  to attend as punishment. Worse, youth possession laws reinforce the
  idea that cigarettes are an “adults only” product, which just
  enhances the attractiveness of smoking to youth. Philip Morris has
  long understood this dynamic, as evidenced by its 1991 Archetype
  Project, in which it sought to exploit youngsters’ longings for
  adulthood and tendencies toward rebelliousness to make them want
  cigarettes more. The person PM appointed to head up its Archetype
  Project, Carolyn C. Levy, Ph.D., was a specialist in smoker
  psychology, nicotine addiction and marketing, and was especially
  knowledgeable about marketing the Marlboro brand. Levy wrote in a
  1981 PM report,
       “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular
  customer…The smoking patterns of teenagers are particularly
  important to Philip Morris.”
       Dr. Levy was the person PM assigned to head its “Youth
  Smoking Prevention” department when it was first formed in 1999.
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  “I could not with a clear conscience go into that newsroom and
  tell the staff that this was a good thing,” explained former WEAU-13
  news director Glen Mabie. Mabie resigned from the northwest
  Wisconsin television station “because of a disagreement …
  regarding coverage of medical topics.” WEAU’s management “attempted
  in recent weeks to negotiate a deal with Sacred Heart Hospital in
  which TV-13 would run medical stories featuring personnel from that
  hospital and its affiliates but not employees of other Chippewa
  Valley hospitals or clinics.” Mabie said, “My problem with this is
  it was going to dictate newsroom content.” This week, after an
  official with WEAU owner Gray Television “met with the station’s
  staff … the company decided not to proceed with the agreement.”
  Mabie “said he hopes to land a communications or marketing job but
  acknowledged his future is uncertain.”
SOURCE: Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin), January 15, 2008

  “Fibromyalgia is a real, widespread pain condition,” stresses a
  woman in a television ad for Lyrica, a Pfizer drug that recently
  became “the first medicine approved to treat the pain condition.”
  But some doctors have their doubts. These skeptics “say vague
  complaints of chronic pain do not add up to a disease. … The
  condition cannot be linked to any environmental or biological
  causes.” Even Dr. Frederick Wolfe, who first defined fibromyalgia,
  “now considers the condition a physical response to stress,
  depression, and economic and social anxiety.” The president of the
  National Fibromyalgia Association, “a patients’ advocacy group that
  receives some of its financing from drug companies,” counters that
  the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Lyrica made her pain
  “real to people.” Even though Lyrica has troubling side effects, its
  sales increased 50 percent from 2006 to 2007, and are expected to
  “rise an additional 30 percent this year, helped by consumer
  advertising.” Forest Laboratories and Eli Lilly have “asked the FDA
  to let them market drugs for fibromyalgia.” One thing is certain,
  says Dr. Wolfe — the drug companies are “going to make a fortune.”
SOURCE: New York Times, January 14, 2008

  The energy company BP’s rebranding as “Beyond Petroleum,” led by
  WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, is reviewed by Adweek’s Gregory Solman.
  The campaign was launched in 2000, after multiple mergers left BP
  wanting “to replace its multiple brand images with a distinct and
  uniform identity.” Research done by WPP’s BrandZ revealed “a crucial
  insight about selling fuel.” Unlike other products, motor fuels
  hadn’t developed much “brand affinity” among consumers. “Ogilvy’s
  team resolved to build the BP brand with ‘real equity and emotional
  affinity beyond the products and services themselves,'” explained
  Ogilvy’s John Seifert. “In other words, there was plenty of room for
  emotional attachment to a fuel company.” Part of the campaign, “BP
  on the Street,” sought to earn “street cred” by holding public
  forums to project “more humility, more transparency, more openness.”
  Seven years later, “brand awareness” for BP has increased to 67
  percent (from four percent in 2000), and marketing surveys have
  identified BP as the “greenest” energy brand.
SOURCE: Adweek, January 14, 2008

  The U.S. Congress is investigating “the pharmaceutical industry’s
  use of celebrity endorsements in direct-to-consumer (DTC)
  advertisements.” First up are ads for Pfizer’s cholesterol drug
  Lipitor, which feature the inventor of the artificial heart, Dr.
  Robert Jarvik. In the ads, Jarvik says, “Just because I’m a doctor
  doesn’t mean I don’t worry about my cholesterol.” Representative
  John Dingell noted, “Dr. Jarvik appears to be giving medical advice,
  but apparently, he has never obtained a license to practice or
  prescribe medicine.” Dingell is leading the investigation, along
  with Representative Bart Stupak. The lawmakers are asking Pfizer for
  “all of its records — including contracts, e-mails and
  correspondence — related to the advertising campaign, as well as
  all records related to Jarvik’s financial association with the firm”
  and “materials detailing Jarvik’s professional qualifications, his
  own use of Lipitor, and Pfizer’s rationale for featuring him in the
  campaign.” Other celebrity drug endorsers include former Senator Bob
  Dole and athletes Magic Johnson and Cal Ripken.
SOURCE: PM (Pharmaceutical Marketing) Live, January 9, 2008

  Listen to this week’s edition of the “Weekly Radio Spin,” the
  Center for Media and Democracy’s audio report on the stories behind
  the news. This week, we look at how why drug prices are so high, and
  it’s not why you think, the resurrection of the Swift Boaters, and
  what Marvel Comics and the U.N. are up to. In “Six Degrees of Spin
  and Fakin’,” we tell you how many steps it takes to get from nasty
  election-year smears to the person tasked with promoting the U.S. as
  a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world. The Weekly Radio
  Spin is freely available for personal and broadcast use. Podcasters
  can subscribe to the XML feed on www.prwatch.org/audio or via
  iTunes. If you air the Weekly Radio Spin on your radio station,
  please email us at editor@prwatch.org to let us know. Thanks!
SOURCE: Center for Media and Democracy, January 11, 2008

  Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has agreed to become a
  part-time adviser to the global financial services firm JPMorgan
  Chase where, the Financial Times reports, he “will use his
  experience and contacts to provide political and strategic advice to
  the US bank and participate in some client events.” Blair resigned
  as leader of the parliamentary wing of British Labor Party in June
  2007. While the fee for the position has not been disclosed, a New
  York recruitment firm suggested that it “was likely to be more than
  $1m (£500,000) a year.” Blair stated that he was looking at
  accepting “a small handful” of similar positions with other
  companies. “I have always been interested in commerce and the impact
  of globalisation. Nowadays, the intersection between politics and
  the economy in different parts of the world, including the emerging
  markets, is very strong,” he said.
SOURCE: Financial Times (UK), January 9, 2008

  The role of the PR firm Hill & Knowlton (H&K) in polishing the
  image of the authoritarian government of the Maldives has become the
  centerpoint of a controversy between the former Foreign Minister,
  Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, and the current Information Minister,  Mohamed
  Nasheed. In a blog post, Nasheed claimed that the reason that
  Shaheed resigned ahead of a motion of no confidence in August 2007
  was that documents relating to the PR company’s work were in the
  hands of the Foreign Minister’s critics. In response, Shaheed stated
  that “it is total rubbish that Nasheed is saying he knows nothing
  about Hill & Knowlton. He twice met them in my presence.” H&K’s lead
  consultant on the account, Tim Fallon, is saying nothing. It appears
  that Fallon, who posted a blog in October 2006 defending his work
  for the regime, blogs no more.
SOURCE: N.Velidhoo Community, December 30, 2007

  The Federal Trade Commission is looking into the booming business
  of selling  carbon offsets, which are billed as a way “to balance
  the emissions created by, say, using a laptop computer or flying on
  a jet.” Deborah Platt Majoras, chairwoman of the FTC feels that with
  the tremendous growth in the field, there is potential for abuse of
  the public’s trust. The last revision of the FTC’s environmental
  advertising guidelines was in 1997, and did not include terms common
  today, like sustainability, carbon offsets or renewable energy. “As
  more companies use offset programs to create an environmental halo
  over their products, the commission said it was growing increasingly
  concerned that some green marketing assertions were not
  substantiated. Environmentalists have a word for such misleading
  advertising: ‘greenwashing.'” Corporations that are offering carbon
  offset credits to consumers include Dell, Continental Airlines,
  General Electric, Bank of America, and Volkswagen. “The FTC has not
  accused anyone of wrongdoing — neither the providers of carbon
  offsets nor the consumer brands that sell them. But
  environmentalists say — and the FTC’s hearings suggest — that it
  is only a matter of time until the market faces greater scrutiny
  from the government or environmental organizations.”
SOURCE: New York Times, January 9, 2008

  “We are profoundly concerned that the government’s approach was
  designed to provide particular and limiting answers,” announced a
  spokesperson for the British nuclear consultation group. The
  independent group of energy economists and nuclear advisers
  condemned the British government’s second attempt at developing a
  national energy policy, saying that “the government’s plans to force
  through a new generation of nuclear power stations” is “undemocratic
  and possibly illegal,” reported John Vidal. Prime Minister Gordon
  Brown’s government had been preparing to announce “a major expansion
  of nuclear power,” which could result in 20 new nuclear reactors.
  The consultation process included meetings and thousands of public
  comments, but environmental groups say “the questions [asked] were
  loaded and the information presented biased and inaccurate.” A
  complaint was also filed against the market research firm involved.
  Greenpeace won a court decision against the British government’s
  first energy consultation, but will wait for its response to the new
  criticism before launching another legal challenge.
SOURCE: The Guardian (UK), January 4, 2008

  Cartoon heroes are being “called upon to rescue the battered image
  of a very real-world institution — the United Nations,” reports
  Simon Usborne. The UN is partnering with Marvel Comics on a comic
  book to be released later this year. The comic “is expected to be
  set in a war-torn fictional country and feature heroes including
  Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, as well as workers from UN
  agencies such as children’s charity UNICEF and blue helmets of the
  peacekeeping forces. Eventually, the work will be translated into
  several other languages … but it is American schoolchildren who
  the UN plans to target first. … The comic will be distributed free
  to one million U.S. school children.” The UN says it hopes the comic
  teaches “the value of international co-operation,” and sensitizes
  students “to the problems faced in other parts of the world.” Marvel
  Comics has previously adopted political causes, mostly in favor of
  U.S. policies. In 1971, Marvel’s Stan Lee penned a Spider-Man story
  on “the destructive force of narcotics,” at the request of the U.S.
SOURCE: The Independent (UK), January 1, 2008

  Australia’s 1992 Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act prohibited
  most forms of tobacco advertising, making it more difficult for
  tobacco companies to promote their products. Despite the law, an
  Australian market-research firm called Feedback Plus was found to be
  distributing free cigarettes in a program it said was a
  “taste-testing survey” being carried out as part of a “marketing
  research” program. Participants received free, unbranded packs of
  cigarettes that carried only a health warning, were told to take
  them home, smoke them and fill out a survey. Participants received
  A$50 per survey and up to 200 free cigarettes per week, for up to
  six to eight weeks. Once the cigarette give-away was discovered, the
  Federal Health Department reprimanded the marketing research firm
  and the program was shut down. Feedback Plus distributed an email
  about the survey last November in which it sought smoking and
  non-smoking participants, and said that all “had a chance at winning
  an instant $200 cash.”
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, January 9, 2008

  The migration of sponsored video news releases (VNRs) and B-roll
  footage from television stations to websites is increasing. Major
  companies are “bypassing the press and going directly to the
  masses,” in part because of increased scrutiny of fake news,
  according to Brandweek. An Allstate representative said posting the
  videos to their website “started as an experiment,” but is now the
  norm. General Motors’s director of broadcast communications
  explained, “We’re just trying to get impressions out.” Bev Yehuda of
  the PR firm MultiVu agreed: “Our customers are no longer reliant on
  broadcasters to tell their stories.” In related news, the Recording
  Industry Association of America (RIAA) marked the holiday season
  with “a series of initiatives to offer consumers tips for avoiding
  pirated music,” including an alarmist VNR. As Consumerist.com noted,
  the RIAA video was “leaked (promoted?) heavily by the [public
  relations] company that produced it,” so “keep your bullshit
  ‘stealth marketing’ sensors up.”
SOURCE: Brandweek, December 31, 2007

  The pharmaceutical industry often uses the need for research and
  development funds as an excuse for exorbitant drug prices. But a new
  study by Marc-Andre Gagnon and Dr. Joel Lexchin out of York
  University (Canada), titled “The Cost of Pushing Pills: A New
  Estimate of Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the United
  States,” shows that publicity, not R&D, eat up the biggest
  percentage of U.S. drug price tags. “The researchers’ estimate is
  based on the systematic collection of data directly from the
  industry and doctors during 2004, which shows the U.S.
  pharmaceutical industry spent 24.4% of the sales dollar on
  promotion, versus 13.4% for research and development, as a
  percentage of US domestic sales of US$235.4 billion.” Gagnon
  estimates that the pharmaceutical industry “spent approximately
  US$61,000 in promotion per physician during 2004.” 2004 is the
  latest year for which complete data is available. “The study’s
  findings supports (sic) the position that the U.S. pharmaceutical
  industry is marketing-driven and challenges the perception of a
  research-driven, life-saving, pharmaceutical industry, while arguing
  in favour of a change in the industry’s priorities in the direction
  of less promotion.”
SOURCE: ScienceDaily, January 7, 2008


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