It seems counter-intuitive, doesn't it?
But today's marketing environment is a complex and dynamic arena.
Philip Morris have run a press campaign in the UK with the headline:
Our New Year's Resolution: we're trying to give up cigarettes
The BBC reports:
"It is part of the company's drive to achieve a "smoke-free future".The owner of the Marlboro brand has also written to Prime Minister Theresa May asking to be allowed to print information about quitting and switching on its cigarette packs.
However, anti-smoking campaigners described the campaign as a "PR stunt".
The text of the advertisement runs: "Our New Year's Resolution: we're trying to give up cigarettes".
It goes on to encourage smokers to go to a new website containing information about giving up smoking or moving on to alternatives to tobacco.
It also says Philip Morris will:
The advert says the company has spent £2.5bn on develop smoke-free alternatives.
Asked why, if Philip Morris was so keen to go smoke-free, it did not simply stop making cigarettes and switch over to alternative production, a company spokesman told the BBC: "We are trying to go smoke free as fast as we can. If we just stopped selling cigarettes tomorrow, others would sell them in our place.
"In the UK, smokers are well aware of the dangers of smoking but what they want is more information about their options to quit smoking or switch."
'Smoke-free'In the UK, Philip Morris markets several alternatives to cigarettes, including, including a heated tobacco product, Ioqos.
It also owns the Nicocig, Vivid and Mesh e-cigarette brands.
"We believe we have an important role to play in helping the UK become smoke-free," said Peter Nixon, managing director of Philip Morris in the UK.
"The commitments announced today are practical steps that could accelerate that goal. We recognise that never starting to smoke - or quitting altogether - are always the best option.
"But for those who continue to smoke, there are more alternatives than ever available in the UK."
'Money to burn'However, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health said the "offer to support" local authorities was nothing more than a donation, which is not allowed under World Health Organization guidelines.
"As Philip Morris well knows the government isn't allowed to accept 'donations' from the tobacco industry," she said.
"However, it does show that the industry has money to burn. Rather than making donations, it should be forced to pay the government more of its enormous profits."
In July last year, the government set out a plan to make England, in effect, smoke-free in the next few decades.
The new Tobacco Control Plan aimed to cut smoking rates from 15.5% to 12% of the population by 2022, paving the way to a smoke-free generation.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Nixon said: "We strongly support the government's clear ambition to create a smoke-free generation."
The Tobacco Control Plan "was a major step forward in recognising the vital role that e-cigarettes and other alternatives to cigarettes can play in achieving that goal", he added."
What are the opportunities and implications?
- Could BrandWorld work with a tobacco company to promote less harmful ways of consuming nicotine and encouraging smoking cessation?
- What would be the ethical considerations?
- How might we go about it without alienating other clients.
Can the Tobacco industry be trusted?
According to Dr Robert Cialdini in the book Pre-Suasion, a revolutionary way to influence
and persuade in the late 1960s sales of cigarettes were in a three year slide in the US, down 10%.
So, what did they do?
They canned their TV advertising. In congressional hearings the advocated government ban cigarette advertising? Since 1971 the airwaves have been smoke free.
It wasn't altruism and acknowledgement of the harmful effects of cigarette smoking (you know, the cancer thing).
As it happened there was a quirk in the FCC regulations - The Fairness Doctrine applied to 'all important and controversial topics'. It required that anti-smoking campaigners be given equal time to present their counter arguments.
But it only applied to TV and radio.
Initial tobacco companies increased their spend - which increased the volume of counter argument.
Then the tobacco companies changed their media strategy to Billboards, Magazines and placement in movies.
They had literally silence their critics.
What do you think?
Comment below or chat in the hallways…