Sunday, 28 June 2009 17:33


Written by Andrew Romeo
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Joe Camel before he became extinct.Just what happened to Joe Camel?

Joe Camel celebrates the brand's 75th anniversary. The anti-tobacco book-burners have made it difficult to get accurate information on exactly when he was created.  An early form of Joe Camel appeared in a 1963 poster so he as at least that old.

Current history states that RJR Nabisco apparently grabbed “New Joe” Camel off of some French, and then-international ads from the late 1970s as a way to commemorate the brand’s 75th anniversary worldwide in 1988.

“Old Joe” has been strutting his ‘stuff’on the Camel packs since 1913. All legal. Traditional CPG marketing.

In 1991, it was recognized by the Journal of the American Medical Association that more American five and six-year olds knew Joe Camel than knew Fred Flintstone and Mickey Mouse.

They didn’t evaluate “Wacky Racers,” “Davey and Goliath,” or “Tennessee Tuxedo,” because, if they had, they would have been caught assuming that kids born in the mid 1980’s knew lots about cartoon characters from the ‘30s and the late ‘60s. They didn't.

Mickey was fresh off a 30-year creative hiatus, and Fred and Barney were canceled for good in 1966. And guess who the Flintstones’ target audience was back then? Not kids.  Check out this commercial flashback of the past.

And by 1991, the show’s dumbed-down reruns and kid-friendly re-boots were long off the air. Ironically, the “Pebbles” line of breakfast cereals at the time was owned by Philip Morris!

The JAMA was, like many medical conglomerations, literary or otherwise, making a tobacco marketing claim based on a Fox News style bait-and-switch: the assumption that our own childhood memories of Mickey and Fred are eternally passed on to the next generations by the media. They are not.

This use of iconic TV characters from our own childhoods resonated with parents, even though kids were generally unaware of their existences.  Their kids probably saw Joe on billboards weekly on the way to the mall, school or soccer practice, whereas the Flintstones and Mickey were unknown due to non-exposure on TV.

As with “Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids,” there is a distinct lack of real marketing knowledge, and a poignant, and possibly deliberate absence of field-marketing expertise in these ‘expert’ reports. If these same "researchers" had used “Garfield” and “Rugrats” instead,  the results of their report would have been far different. “Old Joe” may have survived. The skill here is more shock PR and propaganda, which, when used properly, convinces intelligent adults that 2+2 must equal 5.

Fast forward to today. “Old Joe/Joe Camel” is back in the news as the catalyst of the looming disaster that is now law: Kennedy/Waxman. Philip Morris, in its unholy alliance with the “CTFK” and the US Federal Government, has helped to resurrect Joe’s spirit just as RJR has come out against the bill as being a ‘market-share freeze’ for PMUSA, and all combustible, tobacco products that compete with Marlboro.

It is. “Old Joe” was put to rest eleven years ago. Yet he is mentioned posthumously in many of the news articles of the past two weeks. In effect, RJR is being brought to the altar to have its current expanded “Camel” cigarette portfolio put under the microscope by new flavor regulations based on the logo’s supposed legacy. “Old Joe” cannot have his eternal rest.

The point of this article is not to defend cigarette advertising. Cigarettes are harmful to one’s health. There can be no doubt. The law should lead to an eventual ad ban, as it has in all EU countries. It doesn’t.

A Gratuitous tobacco ad obviously aimed at adults. We nixed the 'Joe Snus' idea a while back.The issue is that by creating a stimulating and noisy case for ‘marketing to kids,’ despite lack of empirical proof of its existence in 2009, it frees up Big Tobacco to continue legally advertising to adults 18 and up. It is a diversionary tactic: Create an enemy to attract the government’s well-meaning liberals and the screaming mob. Get them all to agree to stop the nefarious plot against our kids and….

High-Fives in Washington that a “meaningful” anti-tobacco law has finally been passed are being met with High-Fives 200 miles south in Richmond, VA because nothing has changed.

Now…1000 feet from a school…That can be measured diagonally too, no?


ANDREW ROMEOJoe Camel was not a Founding Member of SnusCentral.  Surprised the anti-tobacco extremists didn't try to pin that on poor Joe too.
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