• June 21, 2024

JTI Accused of Stealth ‘Social’ Advertising

 JTI Accused of Stealth ‘Social’ Advertising
Photo: Panuwat D

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has accused Japan Tobacco International (JTI) of placing stealth advertisements for its tobacco products on Facebook and Instagram in Germany. Germany bans marketing tobacco to teenagers, and the social media platforms prohibit ads or branded content that promotes tobacco-related products.

JTI reportedly set up social media pages that look like lifestyle groups, appearing to center on events, travel and music. The pages were said to promote Camel, American Spirit and Winston cigarettes.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, “These pages—which are listed under ‘festival’ and ‘community’ in Facebook’s transparency section—use the fonts, color schemes and imagery associated with the brands without making any affiliation explicit, a technique known as alibi marketing.

“The practice appears designed as a workaround to skirt both Facebook’s rules and the German law stating that it is ‘illegal to use promotional information that is likely to encourage juveniles and young adults to engage in [tobacco] consumption.’”

“Our social media accounts represent customary activities within our industry,” JTI responded. “We use age restriction options on our platforms so that minors cannot visit our pages. Our closed communities are only accessible to registered adult smokers.”

The pages require users to enter their names, dates of birth and addresses, which are checked against official German records.

Facebook said no ad brought to its attention violated its policy.