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How I nearly became a Marlboro Man

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    You think your girlfriend has given up smoking, then you find a pack of Alpine in her sock drawer. It's much the same with cigarette companies. You're sure the government has made them stub out their final ad campaign and then you discover they're sneaking out to the stairwell for a quickie on the sly.

    Philip Morris is the world's largest cigarette company. They roll up and crank out Marlboro, Alpine, and Peter Jackson. Philip Morris have something hidden in their sock drawer. How do I know? Because they rang me up and tried to get me on board for a “secret” project. They wanted me to be a Marlboro Man, so to speak.

    Their phone call to me was the third encounter I've had with Philip Morris over the last few years. They were obviously unaware of the first two.

    The first time “Phil” and I bumped into each other was, of all places, deepest darkest Africa, where I was filming for ABC TV'sRace Around The World. I was staying in this tiny village in the Ivory Coast where people lived in mud huts and sacrificed chickens. One morning, into this National Geographic scenery drove a sparkling new, freshly painted Marlboro four wheel drive. When I tried to film Marlboro's push into the Third World, the fat driver leaped out of the vehicle, got all surly, and told me to turn off the frigging camera.

    The next time we met I was shooting a piece for the ABC on how Kraft (of cheese sticks fame) was actually owned by Philip Morris (of death sticks fame). A cameraman and I turned up to Kraft headquarters in Port Melbourne. We strolled in and tried to present the marketing manager with some Kraft/Philip Morris “cross promotion” ideas, like Kraft Rollies …

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