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Vice Media attacked for making tobacco adverts for Philip Morris


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

March 18, 2016 | 3 min read

Vice Media, the $4bn media powerhouse, has incurred criticism for opting to create a marketing campaign for cigarette brand Phillip Morris.

Despite big tobacco being banned from advertising in the UK and US, the company that brands itself as an edgy news outlet for millennials, has opted to produce work for Phillip Morris.

The Guardian reports that Edition Worldwide, a marketing agency owned by Vice, will help create content for the brand – although none of said content will appear on Vice channels or within any editorial material.

Caroline Renzulli from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, accused the company of utilising its connection with millennials to flog cigarettes.

She said: “It is highly irresponsible for Vice to use its expertise to help Philip Morris find new ways to reach young people and sell more of its deadly products, especially in low and middle income countries.

“Tactics like this show why countries need to ban all forms of tobacco marketing, as called for by the international tobacco control treaty.”

Jacques de Cock, a faculty member from the London School of Marketing, said while it was 'regretful' that tobacoo generates income from big businesses at the expense of lives, "we cannot blame companies for participating in this legal trade".

"Despite the known very negative health consequences cigarette sales are still legal, but discouraged," he continued. "So as long as companies will be allowed to make money from selling cigarettes, they will be aiming to market their product within the rules and people will need to produce the designs, clothes, plans, events and all the usual marketing activity to support them.

"Vice is producing films away from their brand therefore protecting themselves from active endorsement but generating income, WPP is helping BAT."

In October, The Drum spoke to Vice Media’s head of innovation Mark Adams on how the company is strategising its native and branded content drives.

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