Wed, Day 84: Sex and the Courtroom

March 30, 2005 6:13 pm by Gene Borio

Mar 30, 2005, 6:34 PM

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company President Lynn Beasley was questioned today on Camel and Kool advertisements in the latest issues of “Stuff” and “Smooth” magazines.

DOJ Attorney Kenneth Sealls said he specifically would not be showing the exhibits on the Elmo screen, as they showed some degree of “undress,” but did pass the magazines up to Judge Kessler so that the ads could be seen “in context.”

When handed “Smooth,” Judge Kessler made a face; we already know she hates certain aspects of pop culture. Mix in a generous helping of high-tech, expertly-crafted soft-core porn a la “Maxim”, and we can just imagine the magnitude of her distaste.

And the very questions being asked of RJR’s President and Chief Operating Officer! Ms. Beasley–young, blonde, very petite, with long thin neck and a model’s jawline (though much too small to be a model)–looked on the witness stand tense yet pretty, like a young Barbara Stanwyck accused of murdering her husband. Ms. Beasley having to say, “it appears [the young women] are in stages of undress,” and that a picture opposite a Kool ad had a young woman’s “rear end featured prominently,” was akin to Barbara Stanwyck having to admit on the stand, “Yes, my husband was cheating on me.”

Some of the headlines involved were, “Lust in Space: Battlestar Gallactica’s Tricia Helfer, and “Bootylicious Beauty Is Back”

It got extremely uncomfortable in the courtroom during this last sequence of the day. And though some quiet, nervous jokes were exchanged afterwards, it was fairly disturbing, and some wondered if this could backfire on DOJ by tomorrow. (Relations between Defense and DOJ are already strained more now than ever in the last 5 years, according to Judge Kessler. Defense may just feel like taking this ball and running with it.)

Mr. Sealls’ point was that these magazines apparently are not tracked by MRI or Simmmons, so their true youth readership is not really known. (Lorillard’s current guidelines for magazine ad placement is: they will not advertise in any magazine with over 15% or over 2 million total 12-17-year-old readership.)

Mixed in with the tobacco ads and alluring flesh-mounds (have they gotten a lot slicker at the art and science of visual enticement than when I was in school? YES!) were:

–sections on video games

–a PlayStation 2 ad

–A Star Wars Commando ad, which featured the word “Teen,” and something that said “T–blood and gore violence.” (Remember, we couldn’t see these things, so we had to rely solely on our fevered imaginations, and though in the interest of journalistic excellence and thoroughness I’m standing in line at the local CVS, I’m behind all the tobacco lawyers, and I’m afraid the mags’ll sell out before I get there.)

Mr. Sealls asked if this sort of magazine were age restricted, and if just any kid in the country could go into a newsstand and pick it up.

Ms. Beasley said she had to assume that “if we advertise in it, it meets our advertising criteria, which I can talk about if you’d like.”

Mr. Sealls, who picked a singularly awkward day to have his parents come and watch his work, eschewed the offer.

4 Responses to “Wed, Day 84: Sex and the Courtroom”

  1. tobacco observer Says:

    Just as a point of reference, most children can watch television ads (or see other ads) during “family hour” for any number of products they can’t legally use including cars, beer, etc. None of these ads are “age restricted”, and they are far more ubiquitous than any tobacco advertising.

    For the moment at least, tobacco advertising is still legal, period. As such, inevitably children (who presumeably have eyes and brains) are going to encounter some tobacco ads. That’s not “racketeering” that’s just reality. But there’s a huge difference between some children seeing the occasional tobacco ad in a magazine, and deliberately targeting them with the ads!

    The video games referenced above are themselves rated, and they are all also coded by age restriction, many to 17 year olds and older. With regards to the specific allegations by the DOJ above, the word “teen” in the ad in question is somewhat of a red-herring. The game in question is RATED for teens, but that doesn’t mean that teens are the only ones who play it, or even the primary ones:

    http://www.lucasarts.com/games/swrepubliccommando/hud.html

    Point-in-fact, the biggest consumers for video games nowadays are young adult males, NOT teenagers. That’s because the games themselves are expensive, rather sophisticated, and a far cry from the “Pac-Man” from the 80s:

    http://www.theesa.com/facts/gamer_data.php

    So this is why the games are advertised in Maxim magazine, which has a target audience of males in their early 20s. For the exact same reason, you can find monthly reviews of video games (and similar ads) in the pages of Playboy magazine, a magazine most certainly NOT aimed at teenagers!

  2. krueger Says:

    I see; it’s an accident when kids and teens see cigarette ads. The tobacco industry never wanted that to happen.

    That’s pretty much the industry position. In public.

    But that’s not what it says in private:

    RJR “Increase our young adult franchise … in 1960, this young adult market, the 14-24 age group, represented 21% of the population”

    Philip Morris: “Marlboro dominates in the 17 and younger age category, capturing over 50 percent of the market”

    BAT “Marlboro is particularly strong in attracting young smokers and it was important to have brands which appealed to this group”

    Philip Morris: “hitting the youth can be more efficient even though the cost to reach them is higher, because they are willing to experiment, they have more influence over others in their age group than they will later in life, and they are far more loyal to their starting brand.”

    RJR: “Project LF is a wider circumference non-menthol cigarette targeted at younger adult male smoker (primarily 13-24 year old Marlboro smokers).”

    http://www.ash.org.uk/html/conduct/html/tobexpld3.html

    I can see why Big Tobacco fought so hard to keep those internal memos secret. They don’t leave a lot of room for believing that gosh, some advertising accidentally got to teens.

  3. tobacco observer Says:

    >>I see; it’s an accident when kids and teens see cigarette ads. The tobacco industry never wanted that to happen.

    Hey, nobody said its an “accident”. There undoubtedly are 15 year olds who deliberately read Maxim and Playboy! They are just not the primary target. Are we supposed to believe that the condom ads in those same magazines are also aimed at teenagers? How about the liquor ads? How about the ads for sports cars? Should tobacco not be allowed to print ANY AD ANYWHERE because some kids “might” see them?

    Short of locking children in dungeons until they are 18 years old, and never letting them read magazines, books, see movies, or step outside into the “real” world where adults still choose to smoke, they are going to be exposed to smoking!

    >>>I can see why Big Tobacco fought so hard to keep those internal memos secret. They don’t leave a lot of room for believing that gosh, some advertising accidentally got to teens.

    That’s odd because the more-than-40-year old quotes you refer to don’t mention advertising at all! They refer to tracking surveys, mostly involving adults. Needless to say, there is an important difference between watching market trends and directly advertising to teenagers!

    >>>”Philip Morris: “hitting the youth can be more efficient even though the cost to reach them is higher, because they are willing to experiment, they have more influence over others in their age group than they will later in life, and they are far more loyal to their starting brand.”

    So “youth” means what here. . .18-21 year old legal adult smokers, like the DOJ claims tobacco is “racketeering” by advertising to? It bears repeating that advertising cigarettes is NOT a violation of the RICO act, regardless of whether or not children view those ads.

    Also, I think you “accidentally” omitted the fact that this quote was taken from 1957. Needless to say, few things have changed since then with respect to smoking, tobacco advertising, and American society!

    >>>RJR “Increase our young adult franchise … in 1960, this young adult market, the 14-24 age group, represented 21% of the population”

    1960? That’s a bit more recent, even though it is still 45 years old, and pre-dates the RICO act by more than a decade. Talking about advertising from that era (which this out-of-context quote isn’t, by the way; its talking about demographics) is still a bit disingenous because just a short time later, in 1965, the FTC cigarette labelling act irrevocably changed the face of American cigarette advertising. What was possible in 1960 in terms of advertising hasn’t been possible for more than four decades. Here’s a more recent quote from the industry on that (from your own source):

    >>Andrew J. Schindler, President and CEO of RJ Reynolds testified at the Minnesota trial: “I’m embarrassed for the company. We don’t track 14-to 17-year-olds today. I think it is wrong, frankly stupid and unnecessary. It certainly doesn’t happen today. We shouldn’t be discussing 14-year-olds in any way, shape or form” 54.

    Again, where’s the smoking gun here? Where are these ads that target children? In Playboy and Maxim next to the condom and liquor ads? If the word “teen” in a video game ad in the same magazine as a cigarette ad is the best that the DOJ can do, I think they are grasping at straws.

  4. krueger Says:

    “Are we supposed to believe that the condom ads in those same magazines are also aimed at teenagers? How about the liquor ads? How about the ads for sports cars?”

    Of course they’re aimed at kids. You bet.

    One tiny little difference, hardly even worth mentioning: these products, used as intended, don’t kill people.

    Tobacco product does. That’s the difference.

    “Where are these ads that target children?”

    What planet did you say you were from?

    Do they get Rolling Stone on that planet? How about People magazine? Sports Illustrated? Time? Any magazines at all?

    If they do, they’ve seen ads like these:

    http://www.trinketsandtrash.org/featured/koolcampaign.htm

    Some samples:

    2004 Peoplemagazine
    http://whyquit.com/ads/Time/People06.jpg

    2004 Sports Illustrated
    http://whyquit.com/ads/Time/SI01.jpg

    Research finds:

    “In 2000 dollars, the overall advertising expenditures for the 15 brands of cigarettes in the 38 magazines were $238.2 million in 1995, $219.3 million in 1998, $291.1 million in 1999, and $216.9 million in 2000. Expenditures for youth brands in youth-oriented magazines were $56.4 million in 1995, $58.5 million in 1998, $67.4 million in 1999, and $59.6 million in 2000. Expenditures for adult brands in youth-oriented magazines were $72.2 million, $82.3 million, $108.6 million, and $67.6 million, respectively. In 2000, magazine advertisements for youth brands of cigarettes reached more than 80 percent of young people in the United States an average of 17 times each.”

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/345/7/504

    Do they have convenience stores on your planet? Supermarkets? Retail stores of any sort?

    If they do, they’ve seen saturation tobacco ads like these:

    http://www.griid.org/antitobacco/

    Really, you can’t miss it: 80% of all retail stores have tobacco advertising:

    http://tobaccofreekids.org/reports/stores/

    Do they have auto racing on your planet? Really? On this planet we have it, and like it.

    Kids like it. A lot. They go to races. They watch them on TV. When they do, they’re watching a program-length commercial for cigarettes:

    “In just one car race sponsored by Marlboro, the Marlboro brand name or logo was displayed 5,933 times, was onscreen for 46 of the 94 minutes of broadcast time.”

    Alan Blum, “The Marlboro Grand Prix: Circumvention of the Television Ban on Tobacco Advertising,” New England Journal of Medicine, March 28, 1991.

    Do they have movies on your planet? Do kids like to watch them? Is there product placement? Do the movies get shown on TV after running in theaters?

    How it works here: every time Superman II runs on TV, and kids across the nation thrill to see the Man of Steel, they’re watching a Marlboro ad. And every time Men in Black runs. Saturday Night Fever. The list goes on:

    http://www.realitycheckny.com/RC_links/ProductPlacement.htm

    http://smokefreemovie.ucsf.edu/problem/moviessell.html

    It’s just another way Big Tobacco makes smoking look attractive, glamorous, accepted, sexy, powerful — and gets that image to millions of kids and teens.

    Maybe things are different on your planet, I don’t know.

    Here, Big Tobacco is highly effective at keeping youth bathed in a sea pro-tobacco messages. Smoking is OK. It’s fun. It’s a great way to show your independence. It will keep you thin. Sexy. Look at all these attractive people smoking!

    And no, this doesn’t happen as an accident. Big Tobacco has been targetting teens for decades. It has spent literally billions on this. It’s still spending billions on it.

    I guess you missed it. I guess on your planet this never happens. Maybe on your planet Rolling Stone doesn’t run tobacco ads. Maybe on your planet kids hate Rolling Stone, never read it. I don’t know.

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