Tag Archives: marketing

Cranberries etc peddle tobacco to Indonesian kids

Delores O'Riordan of the Cranberries giving a peace sign - or is she asking her fans for a smoke?

It’s that time of year again. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was ranting and raving against the likes of Wolfmother and Chris Carrabba for accepting tobacco sponsorship to play in Indonesia. Well, another crop of muso sell-outs led by the Cranberries (that’s what’s-her-face pictured left) are lining up like dirty little piggies at the tobacco-money trough to play at the Java Rockin’ Land music festival from July 22 to 24.

In other words, they’re telling Indonesian kids it’s cool and sophisticated and very, very sexy to smoke. Nice one, creeps.

Here’s a message from a kind reader, Marita Hefler, drawing my attention to the event and a petition against the show’s tobacco sponsorship. Marita writes:

Hi there, great writing – love your posts about the tobacco industry in Indonesia. Java Rockin’ Land is happening again 22-24 July, with Gudang Garam the main sponsor. There is a petition urging all the bands involved to demand the sponsorship be dumped, see: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-international-bands-to-drop-tobacco-sponsorship-in-indonesia. So far, no artist has responded. Yet again, double standards prevail in the lineup: the Good Charlotte frontman is a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and he and his brother have their own children’s foundation; 30 Seconds to Mars are active in environmental causes, and lead singer Jared Leto support Elysium, a charity to support critically ill children; Neon Trees have said they don’t want to be part of tobacco sponsorship and have played at an anti-smoking gig; Ed Kowalczyk is a World Vision rep. Blood Red Shoes have supported a cancer charity, and The Cranberries are well-known for speaking out about political issues. Apparently international bands just dump their principles in a bin before they board a plane to Jakarta. Disgraceful.

To these musicians I say: Do the right thing. Follow the example of Alicia Keys or Kelly Clarkson, and demand the tobacco companies cancel their sponsorship of the event. Failing this, cancel your shows. That’s the only way you can salvage your credibility in the eyes of people who care about kids in countries like Indonesia, where they are the explicit targets of an aggressive and foul Big Tobacco marketing campaign the likes of which the West has not seen in decades (because it was made illegal). By playing at this event you are being used by tobacco companies to create young nicotine addicts in a way that would be unacceptable and illegal in your home countries.

Acceptance of the tobacco money means you are either desperate for cash, or so greedy that you don’t give a damn about your young fans. Or both. Oink oink!

(Photo courtesy of Joe Crimmings Photography)


Tobacco ad of the day: miracle electro-smokes!

On world No Tobacco Day, your featured cigarette ad from times past and, in Indonesia, present:

I’m not sure if you can read the newspaper “article”. It says:

Scientific miracles never cease!… Now see what modern electronics has done to increase your cigarette enjoyment! With electronic accuracy, Accu Ray checks and controls the making of your Chesterfield. For the first time you get a perfect [even smoke] from end-to-end. You’ll marvel at the extra flavour that comes through. Yet because this measurably better cigarette smokes more slowly – you enjoy a cool mildness never possible before. From first puff to last, Chesterfield gives you a smoke measurably smoother… cooler… best for you! In the whole wide world, no cigarette satisfies like a Chesterfield!

Looks like they also boost eyebrow growth (obviously tastes have changes in that department over the years … ).

Those of us from developed countries might laugh and recognise this as the old game Big Tobacco played on us for years – dressing up toxic cigarettes in pseudo-science and technology and selling them as healthy, life-enhancing products.

In developing countries like Indonesia – the new front line for international efforts to reduce death and disease from smoking – it’s not funny. Cigarette advertising is ubiquitous and The Jakarta Post, the country’s oldest English-language broadsheet newspaper, has repeatedly published uncritical articles in its editorial pages about how local scientists are using advances in nantotechnology to make “divine cigarettes” that are not only healthy, they can treat cancer. Even Chesterfield didn’t go that far.

(For more old tobacco ads, see Stanford School of Medicine’s great gallery)

Tobacco ad of the day: smoking as slimmer!

You'll be even slimmer when you're dead

This one goes out to all those women in developing countries who think smoking is a status symbol. Smoking won’t empower you; it will just make you stink and look stupid.

(For more old tobacco ads like this see the Stanford Medical School)

Tobacco ad of the day: the kids are not alright

This one goes out to all the bands that are playing at the Java Rockin’Land festival from Friday to Sunday in Jakarta, Indonesia. They’re all a bunch of monkeys doing tricks for the man from the tobacco company for scraps of pretty green. Totally uncool.

This American tobacco ad from the 1950s is targeting teenagers. These days it would be illegal, because of what we now know about the connection between tobacco marketing, addiction, disease and death.

But Indonesia might as well be back in the 1950s. In fact, it is subject to a bigger and bolder tobacco company campaign to create teenage cigarette addicts, and the bands playing this weekend are complicit up to their greedy necks.

A special mention must go to Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional, who a little more than two months ago played a benefit show before an audience of cancer survivors to raise money for cancer care. I guess Big Tobacco just made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Special mention should also go to the promoters, who argue that they are not forcing teenagers to light up. Smoking is a choice, they say. Yes it is, an extremely bad choice which responsible adults should not be promoting as cool or glamorous or masculine or rebellious or anything else but stupid and dangerous.

The bands who are playing this gig are puppets, nothing more. If they ever claimed to have any artistic integrity they are sell-outs of the lowest kind.

And the officials who allow Big Tobacco to run riot in Indonesia are even worse.

This is what Surin Pitsuwan, the secretary-general of the Jakarta-based Association of Southeast Asian Nations  (ASEAN), said this week at a conference on smoking in Asia:

I think the people must be informed that their health is being compromised by some of these public officials who are puppets of a campaign of persuasion. And the irony is these people know better, they don’t smoke, the entire family doesn’t smoke. They become the tools and the partners of strategies almost willingly and that is something that has to be corrected, but it is an uphill struggle.

Tools, puppets, monkeys … whichever way you cut it this song remains the same.

Here is a list of the Big Tobacco stooges who are scheduled to play at the pro-smoking Java Rockin’Land: ARKARNA, DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL, DATAROCK, DI-RECT, GALAXY 7, LIVING THINGS, MUTEMATH, NOT CALLED JINX, SOCIAL CODE, STEREOPHONICS, STEVE FISTER, Stryper, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, THE VINES, WOLFMOTHER (plus a host of local acts).

(For more old tobacco ads check out the Stanford School of Medicine)

Aussie bands skewered over Indonesian tobacco deal

Australian bands Wolfmother and The Vines have been challenged to justify their participation in a tobacco-sponsored rock festival in Indonesia next month.

The event is the Gudang Garam InterMusic Java Rockin’land 2010 in Jakarta on October 8-10. The Smashing Pumpkins will headline the festival, supported by a host of other foreign acts including Stereophonics and (ironically) The Living Things. It will be the biggest rock music event in Indonesia’s history.

It’s being sponsored by Gudang Garam, a major producer of deadly kretek clove cigarettes. The company owns an Indonesian badminton team and is a prolific promoter of popular music, which it uses to increase tobacco addiction rates among young people.

Writing on The Drum on the ABC’s website, Simon Chapman and Becky Freeman of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health describe Indonesia’s tobacco regulations as ranking among “basket-case nations (such as Somalia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan and the USA)”.

Indonesia has virtually no tobacco control policies or significant education programs. British American Tobacco (Bentoel) and Philip Morris (Sampoerna) are both massively engaged in Indonesia, a kind of last frontier of Marlboro Country. Despite repeated unctuous statements from both companies about their corporate social responsibility and not wanting youth to smoke, they are frequent sponsors of youth-oriented music events. Admission often includes free cigarettes.

But the authors reserve most of their scorn for Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale, who claimed in a recent interview that there was some sort of righteous goodness about his musical life:

Now all I’ve got to do is make music. That’s all I’ve got to do. Music and playing shows is cool. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not killing people. It’s not starting a war, I’m not polluting the atmosphere, I’m just making music.

Chapman and Freeman highlight the stunning hypocrisy of the singer’s attitude by pointing to the fact that tobacco industry marketing is a “key factor” in the deaths of about six million people a year from smoking-related diseases.

It’s pretty easy to poke fun at the utterances of some rock musicians, but there are times when no amount of cruelty is enough. Chapman and Freeman continue:

In his interview, Stockdale reflected on his newborn daughter “And you look at her and you think, she’s four months old. What kind of world is she going to live in when she’s, you know, 40? That’s a scary thought.” The scary thought is that nations like Indonesia can still play open host to massive scale tobacco promotions and that international entertainers are lining up to help the companies sell as much tobacco as possible.

To get an idea of just how repulsive Indonesian tobacco advertising can be, take a look at Gudang Garam’s explanation of its involvement in the local music scene. The company says it has a commitment to Indonesian rock music and wants to “open the eyes of the international world that Indonesia is conducive”. Right… Could whoever wrote that please take an English lesson? It continues in similar, sickening style:

… we feel that compared to other genres, rock embodies of soul, spirit and personality of the Gudang Garam International brand, Adamant, Masculine, Courageous and Modern, and also continues to evolve.

Through this grand event, Gudang Garam International also attempts create [sic] a closer proximity for the genre’s younger crowds to their idols and continue [sic] to inspire them to create new work of arts [sic] and shake the nation’s, and event [sic] international, rock music scene.

And if we can get a few thousand more kids to became addicted to our deadly product that would be good too! I wonder how Stockdale would feel knowing that his “courageous” and “masculine” image is just what this tobacco company wants to make its drug attractive to teenagers.

Chapman and Freeman conclude their piece by asking whether Wolfmother will follow the examples of Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys, both of whom became embroiled in tobacco sponsorship scandals in Indonesia. Both women played their Jakarta gigs only after the tobacco companies dropped their advertising.

Other artists – such as James Blunt, Jamiroquai, Incubus, Anggun and Slash – have felt no such qualms about selling their young fans to the tobacco industry.

(Photo of Stockdale via Wikimedia Commons)