Westlife‘s tour of the Philippines is being sponsored by a Philip Morris cigarette brand – or so someone on the Joe Duffy radio show assured us yesterday. Overflowing with outrage, I drew out my trusty keyboard.
Then I paused, and actually checked the story.
Basically, I can find damn all to damn them with. There’s that picture there, of the band and the brand on one billboard, and then there’s… Ehm… There was a comment posted on the Irish Cancer Society‘s Facebook page – quoted here by Broadsheet.ie – but it no longer appears to be there. Maybe they too noticed there was very little to go on.
The tour promoter’s blog has a positively effusive list of sponsors. Some – Fox for example – perhaps not paradigms of ethical behaviour. One, rather bizarrely, a brand of herbal sleeping aid. (Westlife fans need that?) But none of them the brand in question, or any other known cigarette. See footnote for full list.¹
It all hangs on whether that really is a single poster on the Manila billboard, or two posters next to each other. The continuous strip across the bottom seems to unify the two halves, but we can’t be completely sure it’s not a message about how to advertise in this space or something. Futzing in Photoshop doesn’t make it much clearer, and I can’t find any version of the image that’s larger, brighter or less badly compressed. Indeed I can’t find where it came from originally – no one seems to be crediting it. I’d call that suspicious, except I don’t know what to suspect. A campaign of vilification against a boy band just seems too petty.
One thing – The brand in question, Clas Mild, is not made by Philip Morris. It’s a Philippine state-owned brand (rumoured to explode, interestingly). For all I know its appearance on concert posters is mandatory. Not likely, but we really have no idea what’s going on. Some clarification from the band or their management would be nice. I realise I’m effectively asking them to prove their own innocence there, but I expect they’ll be only too eager to distance themselves from an industry so absolutely evil it makes arms manufacture look like a charity for homeless kittens.
- “Westlife Live in Manila is brought to you by DAYLY Entertainment in cooperation with the following major sponsors: SMART, FOX, Star World, Sleepasil, Accessorize, Calliope, Mossimo Music, Skin Food and Terranova, and Official Residence-Edsa Shangri-La Hotel. This is also supported by the following media partners, Official TV Network-ABS-CBN, Official Music Channel-MYX, Asap Rocks, Philippine Star, The Manila Bulletin, The Manila Times, Business World, Business Mirror, People’s Journal, Bands, Official Radio Partner-Love Radio 90.7, Magic 89.9, Baranggay LS FM 97.1, Yes FM 101.1, Tambayan 101.9, Energy FM 106.7, Manila Conert Scene, Philippineconcerts.com, Atthewomb.com, OrangeTVMagazine.com, and Digipost. Special thanks to Le Ching Tea House, Astro Plus, Odyssey”
- Westlife in cigarette advertising scandal (lecraic.com)