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Young adults' opinions of Philip Morris and its television advertising
  1. L Henriksen,
  2. S P Fortmann
  1. Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Lisa Henriksen, PhD, Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford University School of Medicine, 1000 Welch Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA;


Objective: To determine what young people think about the tobacco company Philip Morris and how it affects their evaluations of the company's new television advertising.

Design: Data were gathered in the context of a controlled experiment in which participants saw four Philip Morris ads about youth smoking prevention, four Philip Morris ads about charitable works, or four Anheuser-Busch ads about preventing underage drinking (the control group). Knowledge and opinion of Philip Morris were measured before ad exposure.

Setting: A California state university in the San Francisco Bay area.

Subjects: A convenience sample of undergraduates (n = 218) aged 18–25 years.

Main outcome measures: Advertising evaluation measured by 12 semantic differential scales.

Results: A little more than half of the students knew that Philip Morris is a tobacco company. Neither this knowledge nor students' smoking status was related to their opinion of the company. Philip Morris ads were rated less favourably by students who were aware that the sponsor is a tobacco company than by students who were unaware.

Conclusions: Advertisements designed to discredit the tobacco industry typically avoid references to specific companies. This study suggests that such counter-advertising would benefit from teaching audiences about the industry's corporate identities.

  • tobacco industry
  • mass media, counter-advertising
  • adolescents
  • smoking prevention

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  • * Although an ad about the company's “We Card” programme features the slogan from the charitable works campaign, it was shown with other smoking prevention ads because its content emphasises reducing youth access to cigarettes.

  • Substituting the multiple choice response as an indicator of knowledge yielded the same results but a more unbalanced design.