PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The tobacco industry is being forced by court order to advertise the deadly, addictive effects of smoking.
Big tobacco companies haven’t paid for television ads since 1971, but that will all change this weekend when a court-mandated television commercial hits the airwaves.
Dr. David Allan, the head of St. Joseph University’s marketing department, says this ad is one of a kind.
“This is corrective advertising,” said Allan. “They’re being made to do this.”
Unlike pharmaceutical ads which talk about possible side effects, the monotonous, black text on white background, 45-second spot simply focuses on the dangers of smoking.
“Certainly an ad that is only designed to tell you a product is harmful, addictive, could kill, certainly would be unique in the advertising world,” said Allan.
It’s the result of a decades’ long legal battle. In 1999, the federal government brought a racketeering case against big tobacco, seeking to make them pay up for decades of deception in masking the dangers of cigarettes.
Big tobacco appealed and appealed, until this final decision, so now the commercial will air for the next year.
The ruling requires it to play at least five times per day on all the major networks, and though it’s different than ads of the past, meant to entice you to light up, the question remains whether it will be effective in deterring others.
“They were forced to do it. It’s embarrassing and they’re going to make it as simplistic as possible, show that their heart’s not into it. Here’s what we were told to do. There you go,” explained Allan.
This court ruling also requires big tobacco to pay for and publish ads in newspapers and magazines.
Marketing experts point out there is no requirement to advertise on digital outlets or streaming services, or even the web.
Experts say that could be considered a win for big tobacco since so many people use those newer platforms, and fewer are consuming traditional media.