Editorial: Philip Morris deal makes PR sense

Philip Morris’ decision to buy Nabisco Holdings has captured a lot of favorable reaction in the business press (see Media Watch, p17). The deal makes sense in a food industry that’s seeing increasing consolidation in response to changing consumer tastes and an evolving food distribution network.

Philip Morris’ decision to buy Nabisco Holdings has captured a lot of favorable reaction in the business press (see Media Watch, p17). The deal makes sense in a food industry that’s seeing increasing consolidation in response to changing consumer tastes and an evolving food distribution network.

Philip Morris’ decision to buy Nabisco Holdings has captured a lot

of favorable reaction in the business press (see Media Watch, p17). The

deal makes sense in a food industry that’s seeing increasing

consolidation in response to changing consumer tastes and an evolving

food distribution network.



But the dollars 14.9 billion takeover also makes PR sense. Philip Morris

already has been doing more PR of late for its non-smoking businesses,

Kraft and Miller Brewing. Its overall PR thrust, even for its tobacco

operations, has been presenting a human face to an entity that for years

was thought of as part of an uncaring tobacco monolith.



Adding in such warm and fuzzy Nabisco brands as Oreos and Lifesavers

will make PM’s job much easier by diverting attention and importance

away from its stained cigarette unit.



While PM isn’t completely denying its tobacco roots, it’s definitely

become more low-key about it; for example, concentrating tobacco-related

PR on its youth smoking prevention efforts. Meanwhile, competitors like

R.J. Reynolds are still publicly defiant. Reynolds chairman Andrew

J.



Schindler recently told jurors in a Florida class-action suit: ’I can’t

apologize for what we’re doing, because we’re doing the very best we

can.’ It’s hard to imagine that statement eliciting much sympathy from a

juror.



The Nabisco deal won’t turn off all the PR heat for Philip Morris.

Already, INFACT, a very vocal anti-smoking group, has said it could

extend its boycott against PM’s Kraft products to include Nabisco

brands.



Still, Philip Morris doesn’t have to win over extremists. It’s trying to

convince the American public, including Washington regulators and

lawmakers, that it’s not such a bad a company after all. Offering the

world an Oreo cookie can only help that effort.



It’s tough being an entrepreneur Just ask Scott Smith, president of

EntrepreneurPR, who last month lost a trademark battle against Peter

Shea, CEO of Entrepreneur Media. A federal district court decided that

the Sacramento-based PR firm’s name not only infringed upon Entrepreneur

Magazine’s trademark, but that it was created with the intention of

confusing the public. With zeal reminiscent of Judge Thomas Penfield

Jackson, the court shot down every argument lobbed by EntrepreneurPR’s

lawyer.



The most dodgy, and potentially worrisome, bit of reasoning applied by

the court was its ruling that since EntrepreneurPR and Entrepreneur

Magazine both used the Internet as a marketing channel, such overlap

created confusion.



We beg the court to tell us one service that isn’t marketed over the

Internet these days. A Web search for the word ’entrepreneur’ found 611

hits. One down, 610 to go. Is Ernst & Young, which presents the annual

’Entrepreneur of the Year’ award, next in line?



Smith, meanwhile, is left to lick his wounds and prepare an appeal. We

wish him luck, and would like to commend him and all entrepreneurs for

bravery, which is sometimes in the face of stupidity.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.