Jackie Huba

Tobacco marketing marks impossible new low

From the June/July issue of Event Marketer Magazine:

“New cigarette company Freedom Tobacco last month began undercover ‘leaner’ programs in New York City and Miami. Eight-woman crews infiltrate nightlife venues Thursdays through Saturday (125 total venues per market, per month). Working in pairs, the ladies hang by the bar with a full, open pack of Legal. Inevitably someone asks to bum a smoke, and the field staffers hand one over, casually mentioning the new brand, how great it tastes, and where to buy it (online). Once the unknowing consumer lights up, the ‘woman seems to be unavailable and moves on to someone else,’ says Freedom co-founder Patrick Carroll. The goal is for each crewmember to talk to 10 consumers per hour.”

So watch out guys, that hottie hitting on you at the bar ain’t interested in anything but gettin’ paid. It calls to mind the debacle with the Ericcson/Sony camera phone that featured paid actors pretending to be foreign tourists in New York, who would rope in unsuspecting victims and pitch them on the phone. Consumer activists groups didn’t think that was too cool and ut generated lots of negative buzz.

Paid evangelism is always bad. Always.

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