March 23, 2001

Chicago community leaders and local activists are joining the national corporate accountability organization Infact in a protest outside Leo Burnett, the advertising agency that created the Marlboro Man image-which has made Philip Morris's Marlboro the #1 cigarette among US youth. The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, NAACP-Chicago Southside Branch, Christian Council on Urban Affairs, Citywide Coalition Against Tobacco and Alcohol Billboards, Community Renewal Society, Faith Community of Saint Sabina, Fernwood United Methodist Church, the National Black United Front, and Infact are urging Leo Burnett to end its promotion of tobacco addiction around the world with aggressive tactics like the Marlboro Man. Community leaders and organizations are also building support for Infact's Boycott of Chicagoland- based Kraft, Philip Morris's food division, to pressure the tobacco giant to stop promoting tobacco to kids and keep out of public health policy. "We're here in Kraft's backyard calling on the Leo Burnett agency to stop spreading the global tobacco epidemic. Leo Burnett's ads hook kids from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the Czech Republic. While pressuring Philip Morris directly through the Kraft Boycott, we're also exposing and challenging Leo Burnett as an important accomplice to the tobacco giant," says Rev. Paul Jakes, pastor of the Old South Baptist Church.

Protesters wearing masks showing the Marlboro Man as a skeleton are delivering thousands of messages signed by Kraft Boycotters from the South Side neighborhoods of Chicago and around the world demanding the withdrawal of the Marlboro Man. Speakers at the event are challenging Philip Morris's targeting of communities of color and honoring the memory of Henry "Mandrake" Brown, founder of the Citywide Coalition Against Tobacco and Alcohol Billboards, who was killed in 1996. By attending the rally, Mr. Brown's mother Mrs. Margarite Brown is adding her voice to the growing pressure on Philip Morris to retire the Marlboro Man-described by its creator Jack Landry as "the right image to capture the youth market's fancy," and arguably the world's leading source of youth tobacco addiction.

Leo Burnett was involved in a massive Philip Morris ad campaign aimed at polishing its tarnished image with consumers and policymakers. The commercials highlight the tobacco giant's ownership of Kraft and its charitable contributions. "Leo Burnett has been doing Philip Morris's dirty work for generations-from the creation of the Marlboro Man in 1954 to the current corporate image makeover and the recently announced launch of the so- called Marlboro Girl," says Infact Organizer Kim Foltz. Despite an 800% increase in Philip Morris's image advertising from 1998 to 1999, these ads may be backfiring. A recent Harris Interactive poll found that 16% of respondents familiar with Philip Morris had boycotted its products in the past year.

The United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society and the American Medical Student Association added even more momentum to Infact's Kraft Boycott by becoming its latest endorsers, among more than 200 organizations and prominent individuals. Under swelling pressure from consumers and investors leading up to its annual shareholders' meeting in Richmond, Virginia on April 26, Philip Morris recently filed for an Initial Public Offering of stock for its Kraft Foods subsidiary. The corporation's 2000 Annual Report shows concern about attracting, motivating, and retaining qualified employees-particularly in the food division.

Today's action is part of the International Weeks of Resistance to Tobacco Transnationals 2001, which involves events in 35 countries to protest tobacco industry interference in public policy through tactics like heavy-handed lobbying, political payoffs, and public relations cover-ups. This mobilization will culminate at the end of April, with the Philip Morris annual shareholders' meeting and the resumption on April 30 of government negotiations on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)-an international treaty that could limit the tobacco industry's advertising, promotion and political influence. Stories and photos from the International Weeks of Resistance are available at "From Chicago, IL to Richmond, VA and from Honduras to Togo, community leaders and activists are rallying together to demand that Philip Morris withdraw the Marlboro Man and stop lobbying to water down public health protections like the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control," concludes Infact's Foltz.

Since 1977, Infact has been exposing life-threatening abuses of transnational corporations and organizing successful grassroots campaigns to hold corporations accountable to consumers and society at large. From the Nestle Boycott of the 1970s and '80s to the GE Boycott of the 1980s and '90s to today's Boycott of Philip Morris's Kraft Foods, Infact organizes to win! For more information visit

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