Home > Media > Tobacco Corporations are interested only in our “intulecktualul property rights” – agree/disagree?

Tobacco Corporations are interested only in our “intulecktualul property rights” – agree/disagree?




Some (most?) folk will have seen an advert currently running on television, featuring the above image.

It is part of a campaign by tobacco companies to oppose plain packaging here in New Zealand. In Australia, recently, a million-dollar law suit brought by tobacco companies against the Australian government was fought on this specific issue.

The tobacco companies lost.

See:  Tobacco packaging: cigarette companies lose Australian court case

This trans-Tasman conflict was viewed closely by National and it’s coalition-partner, the Maori Party. Especially by Associate Health Minister, Tariana Turia.

See: Tariana Turia welcomes Australian plain packaging decision

Plans for a similar law are being mooted here in New Zealand; to replace the glamourous, brightly-coloured cigarette packets with plain packages featuring mostly the usual ghastly images of cancer victims.

In response, British American Tobacco New Zealand, the biggest tobacco company in the country  launched a counter-campaign on 23 August, called Agree-Disagree.

Part of that campaign is a short, animated advertisement running at prime time on several (?) television networks. The campaign pushes the proposition that if a business creates “intellectual property” then it should be free to use it.

This blogger has seen the ad.

It’s rubbish.

If the aim of the campaign is to mobilise public opinion to log on to the Agree-Disagree website, then they pushing poo uphill with a garden fork. Ain’t gonna happen, sunshine.

This is the New Zealand public we’re talking about here. A million of my fellow Kiwi brothers and sisters couldn’t be stuffed voting at the next election. If  apathy had been a political party, it might’ve beaten National comfortably.

At the same time, we have pressing issues such as chronic alcohol abuse (which most of the country is in denial about); child abuse (except for a small group prone to moral panic attacks); child poverty; growing unemployment; a stagnant economy; blah, blah, f*****g  blah.

Unless it’s a stranded penguin or some big white letters on a cliff-face overlooking a Wellington suburb or some silly bint making unwise comments on a Facebook page about dead soldiers – the public is too ‘busy’ to care.  Hey, the latest episode of “The Block”, “The Voice”, “The Latest Really Exciting Cooking Show”, etc, etc, is on – and people are positively mesmerised by 21st century junk-TV.

By the time their particular favourite  Reality-show porn is over, folk will have forgotten that ad, plus fifty others that might’ve flashed across our screens during that time.

Thank you, Television, for turning our minds into short-term attention spanners.

Sorry… um, what was I writing about?

Either tobacco companies have wasted their hard-earned cash (derived from customers just dying to enjoy their products) on a disastrously mis-judged campaign – or this blogger is missing something.  If the public are not going to rear up on their collective hind legs in moral outrage that innocent drug peddlers tobacco giants are being treated unfairly – then what is the point of these adverts?

On another excellent blog – Tumeke – well-known left-wing commentator, Chris Trotter made this interesting comment,

The ads aren’t aimed at us, Bomber, they’re aimed at the newspaper publishers and broadcasting networks.

Add up the amount of money being spent – then look at the response from editors and columnists.

See how it works?

See: Dear Big Tobacco – why I refuse to agree to disagree

Well, that’s as valid as any interpretation, I guess.

Because otherwise, BAT has just wasted several hundreds of thousands (millions?)  of dollars on a campaign  that is futile and doomed  to be forgotten.

One final question to tobacco companies…

They make the point,

If I create it, I should own it.”

Can that same statement be applied to everything else that tobacco companies created?

Like the millions of cancer sufferers who are dying from use of their product?



= fs =

  1. 28 August 2012 at 1:41 am

    They can still own the IP – they just have limits on how it can be used. Same as if I owned a gun I would have restrictions on how I use it. No one has Carte blanche right to use anything that affects others and advertising, even if it is just the psychedelic graphics on a cigarette packet, affects others. If it didn’t they wouldn’t be crying about having to use plain packaging.

    • 28 August 2012 at 1:56 am

      Precisely, Draco.

      In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that is exactly the reasoning our Aussie cuzzies came up with, when their Courts threw out the tobacco company’s lawsuit.

  2. Matthew
    28 August 2012 at 7:14 am

    It has been said that tobacco companies are only interested in profits, but the link between profits and death is not that indirect so it is only fair to say that tobacco companies are only interested in killing people. What they do is premeditated murder.

    • 29 August 2012 at 9:40 am

      Indeed, Matthew.

      Except for the arms trade, no other industry could market a product that, if used as directed, would kill half your customers.

      Apologists for the tobacco industry say that it’s a matter opf “free choice”. But that’s a nonsense. Most people are addicted at around age 14 and not kid at that age can make sensible decisions. (Which is why we don’t let kids drive, drink, own firearms, have sex, etc.)

      History will show that those who dismiss smoking as a “free choice” and that tobacco is like any other product, are deluded and sadly misguided.

  3. 28 August 2012 at 7:53 am

    I’ve written a lengthy ‘complaint’ (aka exercise in futility, aka sop to my liberal conscience) to the Advertising Standards Authority about this ad – will keep you posted on (any) results.
    However, if BAT ‘recognise the harm tobacco does’ (paraphrased from the ad) but want to protect their intellectual property and brand, then they should be entitled to exploit that brand as much as they like – just provided they never sell another stick of slow death ever again.
    If BAT want to continue exploiting their brands, how about they start marketing branded boxes with no cancer message and no cancer sticks inside..?
    Still protecting their ‘brand’, eh?
    No-one would be silly enough to buy a box of air though, right?

    • 29 August 2012 at 9:36 am

      Duncan, I’d be interested in learning what happens with regards to your complaint. It deserves to be more widely shared amongst readers…

      Feel free to email me at fmacskasy at yahoo dot com?

  4. Duke
    6 September 2012 at 7:25 pm

    The level of maliciousness demonstrated by those who succumb to corporate greed never ceases to amaze me. The cooperation’s who monopolize the social systems that currently mandate this world have an absolute disregard for human prosperity, any attempt to defend their righteousness is petty.

  5. 12 September 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I’d be interested in the followup to that — because I can then discuss it with a mate who works for them as a corporate account manager 😉 Frank, I raised some points along your lines with him, and so far the reply is … “Well Alan, we’ll just have to disagree on that one for the moment” !!! Knowing my leanings, he specifically said to me “I bet you’ve got an opinion on this advertising campaign haven’t ya…”

    As you might fairly expect, there was also a little talk from his end on “But this is about intellectual property rights here …not just us, but anyones rights” to which I was getting him back with “Well, kind of no – you see, your branding in particular, while I can agree it’s an essential part of a whole, that whole just happens to include everything you do that involves the peddling of products that aren’t exactly beneficial to society. Don’t be out there going on about being too hard done by, you lot have had a pretty unopposed run on that score” Again: “Well we’ll have to disagree on that one as well then…”.

    Interestingly, they couldn’t give a toss about the supermarkets, it’s their links into the dairies and 4 Squares that are the biggest puller profit-wise.

    And Duke is right, malicious and underhanded methods are pretty much a large amount of the work they do, that’s for sure… it’s interesting going into their offices, lots of maps and motivational quotes along the lines of “This is nothing but a war on freedom of choice!”

    It’s literally a battleground as far as they’re concerned!!!

    • 12 September 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Thanks for that, Alan.

      The best reply I have for your friend is that “intellectual property” rights or any other “rights” he might perceive is not absolute. Nothing is really absolute (except death, maybe).

      Just as the State has the right to determine what degree of advertising/promotion can be undertaken in our society – eg; tobacco products are no longer advertised anywhere in any medium in this country. Tobacco companies have had to respect that law or, as some have said, they can take a hike.

      I would suggest to that person Alan, that as tobacco is no longer advertised on TV, magazines, etc, that the days of unfettered “intellectual property” rights is long gone.

      Or perhaps that tobacco corporate account manager would prefer government to simply double sales tax on tobacco? That might not “infringe” on intellectual property “rights” – but I would submit to him that making a packet of fags $40 bucks would make shiny, colourful packaging pretty much irrelevent.

      These are some of the points I would put to that person, Alan. 😉

  6. Jarred
    25 September 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Tobacco companys only receive a minimal amount of profit from their sales, get this big bummer, here I am a smoker paying $300 paye a fortnight plus an extra $85 tax from tobacco but heres the real deal, you get rid of smokes then your paye goes sky high becuase hey the government gotta get there tax money from somewhere, just wait they might put the tax on petrol to make up in the loss of tobacco tax. Btw dont even try depict how I live my life, if you want me to stop smoking then you stop poisoning me with your cars.

    • Strawberry Paddocks
      25 September 2012 at 8:47 pm

      Jarred, why do you assume anyone cares whether you smoke or not?

      • Duke
        27 September 2012 at 10:27 am

        Another aspect of the ads on television that is hilarious to me is that their pitch is “we agree that smoking is harmful…we disagree with the untested Australian plain packaging laws…” Honestly. What is wrong with these people. We agree that our products cause hideous disseses that kill you but we disagree that a country should dare oppose the promotion of our products?

  7. 27 September 2012 at 11:18 am

    Duke :

    Another aspect of the ads on television that is hilarious to me is that their pitch is “we agree that smoking is harmful…we disagree with the untested Australian plain packaging laws…” Honestly. What is wrong with these people. We agree that our products cause hideous disseses that kill you but we disagree that a country should dare oppose the promotion of our products?

    Duke, I think you’ve summed it up perfectly.

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