Raleigh in Feature Films

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Raleigh in Feature Films

This letter (sent to the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation's marketing department) exposes in detail the behind-the-scenes activities in which cigarette companies engaged to get their brands of cigarettes placed in major movies. The letter demonstrates the extent to which people are unknowingly being "marketed to" when viewing big-screen movies. It also highlights the fact that moviegoers actually pay to expose themselves to this unique form of subliminal advertising, and that product placement in movies is one of the least expensive ways for cigarette companies to advertise their products.

The writer states frankly that cigarette manufacturers paid to place their brands in the movies. He also points out that promotion goes beyond the mere act of smoking:

Recently there have been a number of high-visibility feature films in which one or more of the central characters smoke a particular brand of cigarettes. This has been happening because cigarette manufacturers have been paying for the exposure. Following are some notable examples:

Movie Actor/Character Brand

"Continental Divide" John Belushi Marlboro "Superman II" Margot Kidder Marlboro "Pennies from Heaven" Steve Martin Camel "Prince of the City" Treat Williams... Merit or Marlboro "Absence of Malice" Sally Fields Carleton

Participation in movies is not limited merely to actors smoking a particular brand. For example, 'Superman II' also included a classic fight scene in which Superman and the bad guys throw a Marlboro truck back and forth at each other on Lexington Avenue. This truck was produced solely for the movie and exists nowhere else. There are other instances of cigarette advertising serving as part of the scenery (c.f. 'Neighbors', 'Pennies from Heaven').

In addition to highlighting the value of the repeated "impressions" these subliminal ads make on viewers as the movie goes from being shown on the big screen to being broadcast on cable TV and finally on commercial TV, the writer explains the tacit and subtle benefits manufacturers receive from placing cigarette brands in movies:

By appearing in movies, RALEIGH will be receiving an implied third party endorsement. In the movie context this endorsement is considered very impactful since unlike the passive exposure of advertising and PR, the movie exposure requires a pro-active role for the viewer (i.e, the viewer must go to the theatre and pay to watch the films).</blcokquote>

He also explains how the placement of cigarettes in the movies "favorably impacts the audience towards the brand":

...the placements will almost certainly be consistent with some psycho framework into which the viewer wants to project. The Brand can become identified with something or someone that is desirable to a specific viewer set.

According to this document, the practice of paying to place specific products in movies has been practically ubiquitous. The writer lists other products whose manufacturers (or service providers) have placed their brands in movies: "Coppertone, Budweiser, Coors, Apple Computers, Kawasaki, United Airlines and American Airlines are a few other sponsors who have recently bought into films."

Placing cigarette brands in popular movies also provides the tobacco companies with an effective "back door" way to put their product on screen before millions of people despite many laws around the world banning cigarette ads on television.

Author ODONNELL, Dennis (employee of Cunningham & Walsh Advertising in Chicago, IL)
Date 19820108
Bates 660115717/5721
Collection Brown & Williamson
Pages 5
URL: http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/inc89e00

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