PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Smoking is butt of a bogus ad's joke

WASHINGTON: The joke was on the tobacco industry this April Fools

Day weekend when the American Legacy Foundation, an anti-smoking group,

unleashed a new ad that garnered widespread PR.

The ad, which had many Americans wide-eyed and scratching their heads,

featured someone purporting to be a tobacco industry spokesman

announcing a recall of all cigarettes 'until the industry can offer the

American public a cigarette that poses absolutely no health risks.' An

April Fools' message came at the end of the ad which ran March 31 and

April 1.

PR for the ad started the week before, however, with two agencies -

Porter Novelli's DC office and ad*itive, a New York shop - garnering

coverage in mainstream media as well as on teen-oriented Web sites and

radio stations once the ad had run.

Porter Novelli went after adult media, getting coverage on NBC's Today,

CNN and Bloomberg radio, said Kathryn Kahler, SVP with Porter Novelli in

DC. More than 100 stories were written or broadcast about the commercial

last week, and early estimates are that 10 million people saw reports on

the ad.

Ad*itive sent copies of the TV ad to the nation's top 50 radio stations

last Monday morning to get additional play after its weekend


It also had 100 people calling stations to generate buzz about the ad

and targeted 50-100 Web sites aimed at teens and adults, said Que

Gaskins, chief marketing officer for the agency which works in Hispanic,

African-American, Asian and other ethnic markets.

'This is one of the rare instances where you have adults and teens

talking about the same thing,' said Gaskins.

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