The ugly Australian from Rothmans, in Germany . . .
- SIMON CHAPMAN, Editor
Rothmans in Australia has never had much time for those quavering ninnies who are sensitive to politically correct concerns like racism and sexism. Since 1995, the pack for Rothmans brandFreedom has used a quote from Abraham Lincoln on emancipation: “Those who deny others freedom do not deserve it for themselves” (see Tobacco Control1995;4:289–90). When the brand was launched in Australia, Rothmans ignored criticism from African-Americans and Australian Aborigines about the appropriation of a message about slavery to sell cigarettes, and the packaging still defiantly carries the message.
Rothmans' leading brand Winfield, now being sold throughout Europe, appears to have been infected with the same attitudes. The ad above, that ran in Germany, shows an Australian Aborigine playing the didgeridoo. The text (“Australia's answer to the peace pipe”) proposes that the didgeridoo is some sort of smoking implement. Never mind that the didgeridoo is actually a ceremonial wind instrument made from a hollow branch and played using circular breathing. And who cares that Aborigines have the highest smoking rates in Australia with premature mortality rates worse than many of the world's most impoverished nations? Let's just use them to cause a bit of a chuckle and try and sell more cigarettes, thought Winfield's European creative team. Another Winfield ad in the same campaign shows a woman standing in a laundry with the slogan “Australian for domestic appliance”. Do my cooking, iron my shirts, get yer gear off, get my smokes! Back to your cave, boys.