Member Commentary

More Questions about R.J. Reynolds Advertisement

1) Brad Bowers ( writes:

I looked at the RJ Reynolds advertisement on your web site and something is really out of place here or there's something I don't understand. Is this the advertisement in its entirety? If it is, then something is really odd here. This advertisement makes no sense. I can't put it in any context that's understandable.

1. I make no connection between this ad and the promotion of cigarettes.

2. If it's supposed to be funny, I'm missing the point. They might as well have said, "If they build luggage strong enough to be dropped from a two story building, don't give it to an airline baggage handler." Again, what would this have to do with the marketing or promotion of cigarettes? Am I supposed to make some subliminal connection between Winston cigarettes and this ad?

3. Why Seattle and Fort Worth? Are these considered test marketing Mecca's?

4. A company that is the size of RJ Reynolds doesn't market foolishly. It's too expensive and in today's world with all the heat they're under for cancer litigation they surely don't want to get into any more controversy.

5. Can you imagine all the marketing and advertising campaign people who are submitting ideas that go through who knows how many committees, management reviews, focus groups and critical evaluations. And THIS is the best they can come up with?

6. Even if it was meant to be taken as a demeaning statement toward abductees, WHY? What purpose would it serve? They're going to spend money to purposefully alienate a group? Why not chose the Ku Klux Klan, alcoholics or coin collectors? And this appears to be a "first strike" slam, not a reaction because of something aliens or abductees have said about their product or enterprise. I've never heard of any abductee report that he saw an alien smoking a Newport Filter 100 and that Winston was losing market share in the Crab Nebulae.

What I'm getting at here is that when I saw this ad all kinds of alarms went off! The ad is so totally out of left field that it made me totally suspicious that the ad is what it represents itself to be. This is too lame to be taken as a serious cigarette ad. There is some other purpose or agenda being served here, or RJ Reynolds isn't going to last 5 more years if this is the caliber of their marketing team. This ad looks so hastily thrown together with what appears to be so little thought and effort. Compare the quality of this ad (pictures, layout, color, etc.) to any other serious cigarette ad. IT REEKS! I don't care what group they would have chosen to address, this is just poorly done. I'm not a smoker, but even I thought this thing looked really stark. To quote Sherlock Holmes, "Come Watson, the games afoot." Either this is a misdirection play or RJ Reynolds is sadly lacking in imagination.

2) Robert T. Bigelow writes:

What A Cheap Shot. This advertisement wins the 1999 NIDS Golden Fleece award for stupidity and insensitivity. But I guess this shouldn't be a surprise, considering this product has been hurting other people for decades.

3) Jodie Smith ( writes:

It's quite possible that R.J. Reynolds is challenging a powerful reaction from the UFO community, and mass-media as well. Advertisers and market analysts do extensive research and target analyzing when they come up with a provocative ad. They "push buttons" on purpose, to create attention, involve lawsuits, expand exposure. It's Advertising 101.

R.J. Reynolds has been subject to a media frenzy themselves, and may be (out of spite, or redirect attention) attempting to "educate" the public that absurd generalizations can be thought-provoking lessons in finding out the TRUTH.

Thanks to the popular show The X-Files, the idea of finding out the TRUTH relates in our minds to UFOs, with their coined tagline: "The truth is out there".

R.J. Reynolds suffered great attack on the idea that they purposely advertised cigarette smoking in a way to "lure" the unsuspecting (dimwitted) public into slow death through smoking (like aliens abducting "dumb" people) I think both abductees and R.J. Reynolds feel the same way: that they are victims of absurd generalizations. R. J. Reynolds' analysts can easily get the stats that X% of people say they have been abducted (and may be thwarted by the advertisement) but a larger, ignorant mass of people actually believe that "only dumb people are abducted." This SAME mass of people believe that R. J. Reynolds purposely "hypnotized" them through advertising, to smoke their health away.

Winston -Straight Up is their identifier and tagline. What does "straight up" mean? It means "that's the truth" - no additives - no b.s.- the PERFECT generalization. A perfectly ironic advertisement, intended to blatantly attack - Every Man. To let us know how it feels.

The CAUS can also be heard through newspapers, billboards - often times the written word is more thought-provoking. Look at the series of "God" billboards that got everybody talking, ex: "That Love Thy Neighbor thing? I meant that" or "Do Unto Others ... or I'll extend rush hour." Not selling anything but a message, a subliminal one. CAUS could post a newspaper ad or series of billboard ads that simply list the statistics of sightings, abductions around the world. Or, better yet, ask a simple question," If life only exists on Earth, why the universe?"

4) Pete Creelman (Aqua writes:

I have seen the R. J. Reynolds advertisement depicting abductees as the dumbest people on earth. The ad, as you say, is insulting and it's also pretty asinine. What I really suspect is that the R.J. Reynolds company thinks that smokers are the dumbest people on earth--that's the subliminal message in this ad to me. They don't want to say it because they don't want to lose customers, but that's the implication in the ad.

It certainly would be interesting to pursue a possible libel case against the company, but then you'd have to get people willing to come forward to testify to their abduction experience which would take a lot of courage. What is the most depressing aspect is that many people treat others who claim to have been abducted as objects of ridicule and not to be taken seriously. Your question do humans really care what is happening to other humans is very pertinent. Perhaps that is why aliens who have communicated to some humans have a veiled contempt for this species (greys who have been the abductors) because they observe how many other humans perceive abductees.

Anyway, the R.J. Reynolds advertisement is a sad commentary on our culture and society and shows how primitive and prejudiced some people's thinking really is. Perhaps the stupidest people of all are the people who concocted that R.J. Reynolds ad and the company for thinking it would sell more cigarettes!

5) Joseph A. Tackett writes to RJR:

This letter is being sent in regards to the advertisement for Winston cigarettes that shows a photograph of a flying disc and contains the caption "If aliens are smart enough to travel through space, why do they keep abducting the dumbest people on earth?"

It is truly sad that your advertising efforts can do nothing better than this sophomoric, ignorant, hurtful and insulting attempt to sell your product. Then again, your product is widely known to ruin the health and diminish life itself from those who become addicted to it.

I don't believe in Hell, but if one could be constructed I would certainly lend a hand in order for an attempt at justice to be rendered to creatures, such as yourselves, that labor with their intelligence to wreak pain and suffering upon their own kind, just for personal gain.

If extraterrestrial intelligence has visited this planet, products and specimens such as Winston cigarettes and the Nabisco group would surely be reason for them to turn around and proclaim "There is no intelligent life here" and be on their merry way.

Have you no shame?

6) Charles B. McMickle ( writes to RJR:

This correspondence serves as a protest to a recent advertising campaign released by your subsidiary, R.J. Reynolds, to promote their "Winston" brand cigarettes. The advertisement has appeared in at least two newspapers in Fort Worth, Texas and Seattle, Washington, and displays a photograph of a "flying saucer," next to which is a caption that asks, "If aliens are smart enough to travel through space, why do they keep abducting the dumbest people on earth?" (see attached).

To grossly understate the matter, this ad is an outrage. Regardless of your company's interpretation of what the "alien abduction" phenomenon really is, to suggest that all people who claim to have experienced the phenomenon are somehow intellectually deficient is deplorable. It is shocking to me that any company seeking to target consumers in order to sell a product would make such a statement. Had your research department done its homework, it is highly likely that they would have discovered that "abductees" actually represent a diverse cross-section of our world population, consisting of individuals of varied nationality, race, background, socioeconomic status, and education. Furthermore, it is even more likely that a number of these same individuals are some of YOUR OWN CUSTOMERS.

Whether or not "alien abductions" are, in reality, what they are reported to be is an issue that requires far more serious attention, investigation, and research than it is currently being given. The only factual statement that can be justifiably made regarding the abduction phenomenon and its "abductees," is that some type of traumatic, psychologically and emotionally distressing event HAS in fact been experienced by these people. For an organization to make factually incorrect statements and sweeping generalizations based on uninformed opinion about such a class or group of people is a careless and insulting act, at best (in my view, it borders on defamation). To then make statements implying knowledge about a subject that an organization has no factual knowledge of, however, is what can only be described as ignorance. Put simply, that is exactly what this advertisement is: a display of ignorance.

An informed and thorough company would never allow such an ad to be released. A respectable company, upon learning of their grave error, would retract the ad and offer an immediate public apology. I implore you to consider the above statements and do the right thing.

7) K.R. writes:

I find humor in the tobacco ad because I knew Josh Reynolds and he was an abductee. His lifestyle and death was just an example of what happens when ET's do their handiwork. Back in 1983 I was privy to Puharich's work while he was living on the Reynolds estate. Josh was a good man and his heart was in the right place. But an interesting thing happened to him after he was abducted and sometime I would like to discuss this with you at length.



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