Monday, Feb. 08, 2010

Call Me Altria

Who knew that cancer-causing tobacco products could generate such bad press? To distance itself from a number of publicity nightmares — like then company president William Campbell's 1994 sworn oath to Congress that "I believe nicotine is not addictive" — Philip Morris Co. Inc., makers of cigarette brands like Marlboro and Chesterfield, changed its name to the anodyne Altria Group. The change took place on Jan. 27, 2003 — the same day the world's largest cigarette maker was cleared of responsibility in a woman's smoking-related death. Unfortunately, the change didn't work. Instead of making customers forget about Philip Morris, Altria's new name just reminded them that the company wanted to avoid being blamed for the adverse health effects caused by its tobacco products.