REUTERS: At Germany’s Bambi Awards for the media trade in November, celebrities posed for red-carpet images in opposition to a backdrop of established luxurious manufacturers. Alongside the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Swiss watchmaker Chopard was a more recent identify: IQOS, a “decreased danger” heated-tobacco machine offered by cigarette maker Philip Morris Worldwide Inc.
Throughout Europe, Asia and South America, the tobacco agency has affixed the IQOS model to music festivals and artwork displays. The corporate additionally markets by means of IQOS lounges at mountainside resorts within the Pyrenees and in modern neighborhoods of Rome. All through Europe, it has partnered with “IQOS pleasant” bars and eating places – closed to cigarettes however open to IQOS.
Such promotions are a part of a wide-ranging “normalization” technique by Philip Morris to wash its picture as a purveyor of cancer-causing cigarettes and current its new smoking alternate options as youthful, upscale way of life merchandise, in accordance with a ten-month research by tobacco researchers at Stanford College, who shared it solely with Reuters earlier than its launch on Friday. The advertising and marketing technique mimics that of tobacco firms within the mid-20th century, after they began associating cigarettes with Hollywood and excessive society.
“Philip Morris, as an organization identify, is considerably of a pariah,” stated Robert Jackler, a professor who led the research and heads Stanford’s Analysis into the Affect of Tobacco Promoting. “IQOS is an try and sanitize their product line.”
The Stanford researchers stated their research was spurred partially by a Could 2019 Reuters investigation that discovered Philip Morris had used younger on-line personalities, together with a 21-year-old lady in Russia, to advertise IQOS. The corporate’s inner advertising and marketing requirements prohibit it from utilizing youth-oriented celebrities or “fashions who’re or look like below the age of 25.” The Reuters report prompted the corporate to acknowledge it had violated its personal coverage and to droop its use of social media influencers.
The Stanford research discovered that, though the corporate suspended its “most seen” social-media influencer applications, IQOS advertising and marketing continues to stray considerably from its company requirements on youth-oriented advertising and marketing.
“Its use of youth-oriented social media channels, stylish pop music festivals and superstar influencers are mis-aligned with their dedication to unique ‘grownup smoker’ concentrating on,” the Stanford report concluded.
(For the total report, see: http://tobacco.stanford.edu/iqosanalysis )
Philip Morris declined to reply detailed questions from Reuters on its IQOS advertising and marketing technique and the Stanford findings, saying it didn’t have entry to the total report. “Nevertheless, we doubt that there’s something PMI may say or try this Dr. Jackler, and others who criticize our scientific dedication and smoke-free imaginative and prescient, would ever discover passable.”
The IQOS machine is central to the agency’s efforts to overtake its picture by means of such initiatives as its “unsmoke” marketing campaign, which promotes such “smoke-free” alternate options as a approach to speed up the shift away from cigarettes. The machine heats up however doesn’t burn packages of ground-up tobacco, which resemble small cigarettes, to create a nicotine-filled aerosol that’s just like that produced by e-cigarettes, which warmth flavored liquid nicotine.
At this 12 months’s Davos World Financial Discussion board in Switzerland – a gathering of a few of the world’s richest folks – Philip Morris arrange an “Unsmoke your thoughts” lounge, the place panelists argued in opposition to laws stopping “reality in advertising and marketing” by tobacco companies trying to promote smoking alternate options.
IQOS is offered in about 50 international locations, together with the USA by means of a partnership with U.S. Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. The 2 firms pledged to regulators that they might market the machine solely to grownup people who smoke, exhibiting pattern commercials of adults conservatively wearing enterprise apparel.
However in different markets internationally, the Stanford research stated, Philip Morris makes use of “coaches” and “ambassadors” to market IQOS. In Romania and Russia, employment businesses recruit enticing ladies as younger as 19 to market IQOS, in accordance with job postings talked about within the Stanford report and reviewed by Reuters.
Instagram postings for Be Like Me, a Romanian advertising and marketing company, present younger ladies posing with the IQOS machine in current months, usually carrying robe-like uniforms in malls. The Instagram account for RBT Group, a staffing company in Russia that markets IQOS, equally reveals images of enticing younger ladies in entrance of IQOS indicators or posing with different “coaches.”
Be Like Me and RBT Group couldn’t be reached for remark.
Different Instagram accounts with the “IQOS” identify, together with one referred to as “iqostyle.arm,” based mostly in Armenia, proceed to point out younger ladies posing with the IQOS in what look like skilled images. One photograph on that account from final July – two months after Philip Morris stated it had suspended all influencer advertising and marketing – confirmed Nika Shuvalova, a 22-year-old Ukrainian mannequin, posing in a swimsuit on a ship with an IQOS.
Shuvalova couldn’t be reached for remark.
A message despatched to the “iqostyle.arm” Instagram account was returned by somebody calling themselves Tiko, who stated the IQOS postings had been a “pastime” and that he had not been paid by Philip Morris.
BIG BET ON IQOS AND ‘NORMALIZATION’
The stakes for Philip Morris are enormous: The corporate invested US$6 billion in growing “smoke-free” merchandise reminiscent of IQOS in hopes of staving off a pattern of declining world cigarette gross sales. In 2018, firm CEO Andre Calantzopoulos advised shareholders that it hoped to obtain about 40per cent of its income – almost US$20 billion – from “decreased danger” merchandise by 2025.
Inner Philip Morris paperwork underscore the significance of its bigger technique: “Make ‘normalization’ a PMI precedence and imbed this mindset into the group,” learn an inner firm doc from 2014, reviewed by Reuters as a part of a 2017 investigation. The doc additionally cited “the threats posed by PMI/trade de-normalization” – reminiscent of lobbying bans and exclusions from worldwide treaties and commerce agreements – “and the necessity to reverse this pattern to drive future development.”
The Stanford researchers pointed to wide-ranging firm efforts to affiliate IQOS with trend, artwork and common tradition in a approach that cigarette manufacturers reminiscent of Marlboro have been unable to do, given altering social attitudes and legal guidelines around the globe that prohibit such promoting and promotions.
IQOS has been current at occasions reminiscent of Germany’s Bambi Awards – which honor stars in TV and movie, sports activities, artwork and music – in addition to that nation’s Playboy Playmate of the 12 months Awards.
Philip Morris labored with British sculptor Alex Chinneck on a dramatic set up on the 2019 Milan Design Week. The work depicted the facade of an outdated, two-story constructing being unzipped like a pair of denims – meant to indicate the IQOS “notion of opening the long run,” the sculptor stated in an interview with FAD journal. A consultant of Chinneck confirmed the partnership.
The corporate additionally labored with distinguished industrial designer Karim Rashid to create an set up on the earlier 12 months’s Milan Design Week. In an interview with web site fashionrepublik.com, Rashid described his set up, exhibiting two faces assembly each other, as just like the IQOS, which he referred to as “an intimate machine that speaks to forward-thinking and authentic expression.” A consultant of Rashid stated he was unavailable for an interview on Thursday.
GETTING TOBACCO BACK INTO RESTAURANTS, BARS
The corporate has additionally sought to tell apart IQOS from smoking by means of partnerships with eating places, bars and salons who designate themselves as “IQOS pleasant” areas, the place cigarettes are banned however the IQOS machine is allowed. The Stanford researchers discovered proof of tons of of “IQOS pleasant” institutions in locations such because the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Romania and Japan.
Philip Morris didn’t reply to questions on its enterprise relationships with the institutions that promote the machine and show its branding.
The Stanford researchers and different specialists say such insurance policies undermine public smoking legal guidelines and encourage twin use of cigarettes and different gadgets. Many customers will proceed smoking outside, however flip to e-cigarettes or IQOS the place they’re permitted indoors. Such switching can “deepen nicotine dependancy and make cessation much less possible,” the Stanford report stated.
The model additionally had a presence at a Tel Aviv College scholar music pageant final 12 months – the place the minimal age for entrance was 16, and the place a video confirmed younger IQOS workers at a pop-up sales space.
At a launch occasion for IQOS in Albania final 12 months, a performer in an elaborate white sequined costume did an interpretive dance on stage with an IQOS, whereas one other performer connected to wires carried out acrobatic strikes within the air whereas enjoying a violin.
“They’re attempting very exhausting to resurrect the glory period of smoking, the place it was glamorous and complicated and trendy,” Jackler stated. “It is about associating it with all the nice issues in life.”
(Reporting by Chris Kirkham; Modifying by Brian Thevenot)