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Readers may be interested to know that the Virginia Slims ad shown in
this article was changed after the head of Philip Morris was asked pointed
questions about it in a recent deposition. The deposition was taken as
part of the "Engle" class action lawsuit in Florida, which is heading
towards a large punitive damages award (the jury has already handed out
two positive verdicts for the plaintiffs).
Here is an exce...
Here is an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal, which provides some
Wall Steet Journal
June 13, 2000
Philip Morris Removes Slogan From Ads
In Second Attempt Responding to Critics
By GORDON FAIRCLOUGH
Michael E. Szymanczyk, head of Philip Morris Cos.' U.S. tobacco
operations, said he ordered changes last month to an advertising campaign
for Virginia Slims cigarettes after a lawyer suing the cigarette maker
asked him pointed questions in a deposition.
Mr. Szymanczyk, testifying in the trial of a class-action suit filed
by Florida residents with smoking-related illnesses, said he removed the
slogan "Find your voice" from the ads after being deposed by plaintiffs'
attorney Stanley M. Rosenblatt, who had suggested it might be offensive to
smokers with throat cancer. ...
Mr. Szymanczyk testified that during a deposition in May, Mr.
Rosenblatt asked him if he thought the Virginia Slims ad slogan "Find your
voice" would be offensive to people who had developed throat cancer from
smoking and lost their ability to talk. The next day, Mr. Szymanczyk
testified, he ordered the slogan removed from the ads. "He made a good
point," Mr. Szymanczyk said, adding that using the slogan in the first
place "was my mistake."
During the deposition, Mr. Rosenblatt also questioned Mr. Szymanczyk
about the use of the line "Don't let the goody-two-shoes get you down" in
some Virginia Slims ads. Mr. Rosenblatt suggested it encouraged people to
disregard health warnings about cigarettes.
In his testimony Monday, Mr. Szymanczyk said that slogan was set to
"expire anyway" and be discontinued at the end of June. If it had been
scheduled to continue, however, Mr. Szymanczyk said he would have ordered
it pulled, too. He said he has told managers in charge of the Virginia
Slims brand to make sure "there isn't any hint of rebelliousness" in
future advertising. "We don't want controversial advertising," he said. "I
don't want people to look at our advertising and say that we're trying to
do something wrong."
A Philip Morris spokesman said that the Virginia Slims ad campaign,
which also has been criticized by antismoking activists for targeting
minority women, would continue to run, but with the changes ordered by Mr.