A tobacco factory in the southern Russian town of Rostov-on-Don has come up with an ingenious way to rake in some profits ahead of the government’s proposed smoking ban – by rebranding its image to be more appealing to young girls.
Bloggers across Russia have been up in arms since the Donskoy Tabak cigarette company unleashed a new range of ads earlier this summer for its Kiss range of cigarettes. Billboards across the city were embossed with glossy photos of pubescent girls in pig tails holding lolly pops and ice creams, accompanied with the slogan: “If you’re not allowed it, but you really want it, then you can have it!”
As if this wasn’t enough, the company has now come up with two new ranges of cigarettes which are in keeping with the ‘girl’s best friend’ theme, under the brands Sweet Dreams and Play. The packages of both are awash with bright colors and feature images of young, smiley, healthy-looking girls.
And in a final bid to win over the pocket money of Russia’s teenagers, Donskoy Tabak (dubbed Detsky Tabak by bloggers) has set up a social networking site for girls who like to smoke at smokingirl.ru, which encourages young women to discuss a range of smoking and lifestyle related topics online.
Although to an outsider the ads may seem fairly amusing, in reality the marketing tactics employed by Donskoy Tabak are nothing short of shocking. Russia has the highest number of smokers in the world and the problem is already particularly critical among young girls.
A smoking ban proposed by the Health Ministry earlier this month would see Russia following in the footsteps of the European Union by banning all cigarette advertising.
Yulian Suetin, creative director at the Moscow-based Grey advertising agency said that there was no doubt that such a campaign would have a strong impact on young girls.
“Children will naturally begin smoking after looking at these ads. The people who created it should burn in hell,” Suetin told The Moscow News.