British cigarette maker Imperial Tobacco has stopped using young Dutch trendsetters to promote smoking, the NRC reports.
The food and product safety authority had decided to investigate the marketing scheme in which 60 artists, designers and other hip twentysomethings were paid in Gauloise cigarettes to come up with marketing ideas.
The 60 artists, spread over Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht and the Hague had to sign a contract pledging to keep the agreement secret. In return for attending three marketing meetings a year, they were paid ‘compensation’ of €960 in the form of two cartons of cigarettes a month.
The company denies it is using trendsetters to try to get other smokers to switch brands. ‘Our interpretation is that we are sticking to the law,’ the paper quoted a spokesman as saying.
In Dutch law, tobacco companies are not allowed to give away cigarettes or advertise them.
Among the young smokers who signed the contract with Imperial Tobacco are designers Bas Kosters and Daryl van Wouw as well as singers and clothes store owners, the paper says.
Designer Tomas Overtoom told the NRC when it broke the story last weekend: ‘The brainstorming session is really a cover to get a whole group of people to smoke these cigarettes. Manufacturers are tied to the rules which is why this is so clever. It is a new form of marketing.’
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