Children are the primary focus of Virginia's dollars 28manti-smoking RFP

RICHMOND, VA: In a state where tobacco is in the top five producing

crops, the Commonwealth of Virginia's Tobacco Settlement Foundation has

issued an RFP to launch an anti-smoking public education campaign aimed

at children and those who influence children.



The campaign carries a dollars 28 million budget for three years with a

two-year renewable option, although there is potential for the winning

agency to remain with the foundation for its entire 20-year life

span.



Clarence Carter, foundation executive director, said, 'We will continue

to have some sort of significant marketing operation throughout our

existence.'



The Virginia foundation received dollars 4 billion as its share from the

dollars 206 billion settlement, a compromise between the states and the

tobacco companies, as compensation when the attorneys-general sued the

tobacco industry to recover costs for treating health-related smoking

diseases. About 10% of the dollars 4 billion is earmarked for the public

education initiative.



Proposals outlining firm capabilities are due on April 16. Carter said

the budget has not been allotted to a particular marketing resource. The

foundation is looking to the agency to tell them where to spend the

money most creatively and effectively.



'We want to hire an organization that is brilliant in this area. We

don't know what our campaign looks like. We don't know how to reach our

target population. We tried to leave the slate clean and let them tell

us what to do,' he explained.



The irony of a multi-million dollar anti-smoking marketing campaign in a

state where tobacco contributes so much to the economy is not lost on

Carter. Tobacco giant Philip Morris is headquartered in Richmond, the

state's capital, where it employs about 6,400 people and its cigarette

manufacturing facility is the largest in the world.



'We are trying to be the first state that moves forward in understanding

the place of tobacco in our economy. This board absolutely rejects a

wholesale dismissal of the tobacco industry,' Carter continued. 'But

even the tobacco companies, at least publicly, agree that children

should not smoke.'



Bidding agencies need not be based in Virginia, but Carter said points

will be given for knowledge of the state's media markets. Carter hopes

to name an agency by the middle of June.



Meanwhile the foundation is searching for a communications director.



Carter hopes to have someone on board to participate in the selection

process.



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