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Marlboro’s “Be Marlboro” campaign is in the news again – this time because of a copyright claim.

#JeffWeCan Flash Mob in Times Square
#JeffWeCan Flash Mob in Times Square

Since 2011, Philip Morris International (PMI), which owns the Marlboro brand, has been running its “Be Marlboro” campaign in several countries. The ads depict parties, clubs, sports and other images clearly targeted at young people, while telling the audience “Don’t Be A Maybe.” The campaign and the major promotional events associated with it are a desperate attempt by the corporation to prevent PMI’s decreasing sales from continuing to decline.

Recently, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids compiled Marlboro marketing videos and uploaded them, without any editing, to Vimeo, a video sharing website. The videos were taken down, because Philip Morris claims they are a copyright infringement. Read more about it here>.

The most recent data shows that the tobacco industry spends more than $1 million a day in the U.S. targeting young adults. In addition to the “Be Marlboro” campaign run in over 60 foreign countries, the industry’s ongoing marketing tactics include using corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a way to market. For example, PMI donates to the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Club, the Kennedy Center, and Ford’s Theatre. See more about tobacco CSR here>. But when organizations try to show how dangerous that marketing can be, Philip Morris uses its lawyers to prevent them from sharing the truth.

ASH changes "Don't be a Maybe" into "Don't be a Target"
ASH changes “Be Marlboro” into “Be Tobacco-Free”


ASH, along with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, recently organized a flash mob with Jeff the Diseased Lung, the character created by HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (shown below).

The flash mob, which took place the same day as PMI’s shareholders meeting, was intended to use fun, dance, and social media to draw attention to PMI’s marketing tactics. It also provided a chance for more than 50 youth and young adult advocates from across the U.S. to make a united, public statement that they won’t be manipulated into using tobacco by PMI’s marketing.

You can watch a video of the flash mob here, or find it on social media using #JeffWeCan and #StopMarlboro:

ASH also produced a video that illustrates how tobacco companies target youth:

Watch John Oliver discuss some of PMI’s other legal tactics and introduce Jeff the Diseased Lung: