“Thank you for your comments regarding the visual images of a woman butting out a cigarette on the ground in our smoking cessation advertising campaign,” Pfizer writes. “As discussed earlier this year, Pfizer agrees with your position that used tobacco products should be discarded in proper receptacles and containers.
“It is not our intention to promote littering but rather to encourage smokers to quit smoking and butt out for good. In the ad, we don’t see the woman abandoning her cigarette on the ground after she butts out and we hope viewers will interpret that she then threw it in the garbage, despite the fact that this image is not shown.”
The corporate doublespeak is dizzying. In actuality, the woman actor is seen grinding her lit cigarette end into the pavement of a school front step next to where she is seated. No right minded viewer would assume the character used an ashtray. I bet the script says something like: 'Last Frame: Woman butts out cigarette on the stair and walks away.
Pfizer isn't the only big corporation that uses advertising to portray mindless acts of littering to sell products. More on that another time perhaps. Our pitch to AdStandards Canada is to list littering as one of the societal no-no's deemed offensive under the Code, which will be up for review in 18 months or so.