Court Smokes Out Tobacco Company's Cartoon Ad
(CN) - An advertisement in a 2007 issue of Rolling Stone magazine violated a tobacco company's agreement with 46 states not to use cartoons in tobacco ads, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled.
Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds took out a four-page ad in the Nov. 15, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone to promote its "Camel Farm" campaign, aimed at rock music fans. The collage-style ad featured images of livestock, crops and a tractor juxtaposed with stereo equipment and televisions. Above the images were the Camel logo and the title "The Farm Free Range Music, Committed to Supporting & Promoting Independent Record Labels." The pages folded out to reveal drawings of indie artists and bands, with illustrations such as an anthropomorphized planet, a guitar-playing robot and a rocket-powered audio speaker.
Eight states sued over the ad, claiming it violated the tobacco company's 1998 master settlement agreement with 46 states, including Washington. That agreement barred settling tobacco companies from using cartoons in their ads to target children.
Courts in Ohio and Maine said the Rolling Stones ad didn't constitute a cartoon.
R.J. Reynolds claimed it didn't know that the ad would contain cartoon images, because it wasn't responsible for the editorial content.
The trial judge in Washington ruled for the company, and the state appealed.
The appellate court agreed that the tobacco company isn't liable, but reversed on the ground that the ad violated the master settlement agreement.
Because the ad "depends entirely upon suspension of the laws of nature," Judge Anne Ellington wrote, it falls under the definition of a cartoon.
"Under a blue sky in a pastoral Eden, roosters hitch rides on floating tractors, speakers grow out of the ground and radios fly," Ellington wrote. "This is in a world where the natural laws do not obtain, where cancer and serious health problems can cease to exist."
The appellate court reversed and remanded to determine the appropriate course of action against the company.