Congrats Seattle smokers! Soon, when you take a pull off that sweet and smooth Camel stogie, you can read the pack and learn how awesome you are for living here (and, if you keep smoking, perhaps dying here too). Tobacco giants R.J. Reynolds just launched a new city-themed ad campaign that decorates cig packs with metro-specific art from cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, Austin and Seattle. Unfortunately, Gov. Chris Gregoire is none to pleased with the mention.
Gregoire is only the latest state or city official to get puffy about the Camel's new campaign. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Public Health Director Mitch Katz sent a letter to R.J. Reynolds demanding they remove the Haight Street imagery from its San Francisco-themed pack. Same thing in New York, where the Brooklyn pack inspired New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley to send a similar letter. Even in Las Vegas, where a person can simultaneously drink, gamble and have sex with a prostitute 24 hours a day, folks are pissed off about the ad campaign.
Seattle's art features a downtown scene including Mt. Rainer and a parody of the Pike Place Market "Public Market Center" sign that instead reads: "Camel Since 1913."
It also has this über-cliche paragraph summing up what the city is apparently all about, while referring to Seattleites as "alternatives:"
"Home of grunge, a coffee revolution and alternatives who'll probably tell you they're only happy when it rains. It's the smell of vinyl in that hidden record store, that worn T-shirt and a ticket stub with a scribbled phone number -- all with the bold spirit of our Gold Rush ancestors who didn't think twice before breaking free for the glowing future ahead."
Gregoire fired off this statement early this week in response to the campaign:
"I am alarmed and disappointed at R.J. Reynolds' new marketing campaign which exploits the name and image of Seattle to recruit young smokers. Special edition cigarette packs featuring Washington landmarks, including the Pike Place Market and Mt. Rainier, are being co-opted to sell a product that is responsible for killing about 7,500 people in our state every year."
The governor also implied that the new art was being marketed toward kids, though that argument is typically made whenever a tobacco company rolls out a slick new ad that turns heads.
As mad as the governor is, one can't help but wonder if she would have felt rather slighted if R.J. Reynolds had snubbed Seattle and made a custom cig pack for, say, Portland instead.