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
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
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
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
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
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.