Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship 2.0
Welcome to our blog where we will primarily discuss issues related to tobacco marketing. We'll also post on other tobacco control related topics - should something interesting strike us as blog worthy. Please let us know your thoughts and post your comments on our blog. If you have a great idea for a topic, let us know too and we're always looking for guest bloggers.
A couple of years ago, I read an article that demystified how and where products are displayed in supermarkets. It described in great detail the bidding process between brands for prime placement, and how virtually no placement is random. Supermarkets charge a premium to be at eye level, at the entrance, and at ends of the aisle where they can catch shoppers' attention. The article made me realise different areas of the supermarket are essentially chunks of valuable real estate which follow the age-old rule of "location, location". It changed forever the way I look at shops, especially Australia's big two supermarkets.
The advent of social media such as Facebook and user-generated content sites such as YouTube have changed the face of marketing, opening up a world of opportunity for tobacco companies otherwise constrained by all those pesky advertising restrictions. This presents tobacco control with a constantly moving target and new challenges not imagined as recently as 5 years ago - but it is also bringing revolutions in some unexpected places.
International public health advocates are calling on U.S. singing star and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson to withdraw tobacco industry sponsorship of her April 29 concert in Jakarta, Indonesia. 400 thousand Indonesians are dying each year from smoking related illnesses and business couldn't be better for tobacco companies. Indonesia does not have the same tough tobacco advertising bans that the industry faces in countries like Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Most of you probably have Facebook accounts - 75% of Australian Internet users have visited Facebook, 59% have a Facebook account. The average time spent on Facebook in a given month is an astounding 8:19 hours (all outside of work hours, of course). These are incredibly attractive numbers to marketers!!
Our first guest blogger is Stan Shatenstein, a tobacco control expert from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Stan is the coordinator of GLOBALink News & Information Monitoring Initiative (an international listserv of tobacco control stakeholders) and a Tobacco Control journal Contributing Editor, responsible for Lighter Side content. He writes about how intriguing information, in this case how there could be pig's blood in cigarettes, can be so quickly spread through online and news and entertainment media. This is a powerful lesson for advocates and researchers wanting to harness the power of the web and mass media to spread health information.
Although his name may be unfamiliar to those outside of the US, Canada, UK and Australia, Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report on the US Comedy Network, is quite an influential comedian. Having started as a correspondent on Jon Stewart's newsmaking Daily Show, Colbert now plays a benighted 'journalist' on his own programme. He gave the English language the word truthiness, among other creations.
I watched the Melbourne Grand Prix on TV yesterday - my husband is a big fan - and I couldn't help but notice that the Ferrari car is still sporting that strange bar code symbol on its cars.
I recently wrote a blog for the BMJ on the "healthfulness" of iPhone apps. You can read the full posting here. But, I did come across a few apps that were relevant to tobacco control. There were dozens of quit smoking apps - ranging from self hypnosis to cigarette break tracking. Most apps only cost a few dollars so I suppose even if they are fairly useless there isn't much harm done.