Multinational Monitor

MAR/APR 2007
VOL 28 No. 2


Big Pharma and AIDS Act II: Patents and the Price of Second-Line Treatment
by Robert Weissman

Manuel Cossa's Story: Mining and the Migration of AIDS
by Stephanie Nolan

Slow on Generics: Bush Policy Saves Lives, At a Premium
by M. Asif Ismail

HIV In Uganda: The Challenges of Getting Pills to Patients
by Richard Kavuma

Building Up Baja: US Suburbanization Comes to the Peninsula
by Dan La Botz


Cry for Action: Shameful Neglect and the Search for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa an interview with Stephen Lewis

Four Million Short: The Healthcare Worker Shortage
an interview with Lincoln Chen


Behind the Lines

Deadly Dictates: The IMF, AIDS and the Healthcare Crisis

The Front
Climate Changing Africa -- African Inequality

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Greed At a Glance

Commercial Alert

Names In the News


Commercial Alert

Pom-Poms for Pepsi

Advertisers are honing in on high school cheerleaders in hopes of connecting with teens through word-of-mouth marketing. Banking on the notion that cheerleaders are among the most popular kids in school, marketers are hoping the cheerleaders will influence their peers and shape opinions on shampoos, makeup, deodorant and other products.           

Giant consumer goods companies have hit the cheerleading circuit, striking deals with firms like Varsity Spirit, which organizes cheerleading camps and competitions.            

Procter & Gamble Co. now offers samples and services at cheerleading events, including hair styling by Herbal Essences representatives or makeup tips by CoverGirl spokespeople.           

Marketing to cheerleaders is “a unique way to get involved with an influential set of our consumers,” says Dave Knox, teen external relations manager for P&G Beauty.            

Meanwhile, PepsiCo has had a sponsorship contact with Varsity Spirit since 2004 to promote its Propel water. The company holds workshops at cheerleader events talking about nutrition and the value of drinking water. Pepsi estimates it has been able to reach approximately 500,000 cheerleaders and dancers since entering the contract.           

Companies are also targeting other cheerleading events. Jamz Cheerleading & Dance President Julie Grogan says, “A lot more corporate sponsors are wanting in particular to advertise to cheerleaders.” Advertisers are offering to sponsor her events in order to pass out samples of their products, Grogan says.
“High school has become a big bull’s-eye for a lot of marketers,” says Matt Pensinger, vice president at the Publicis Groupe sports-marketing company Relay.

Drug Ads Survive

Big Pharma has apparently escaped restrictions on its ability to market directly to consumers. As the U.S. Congress considered “must-pass” legislation to authorize funding of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Senators Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, and Michael Enzi, R-Wyoming, proposed a measure that would prohibit pharmaceutical companies from using direct-to-consumer advertising during the first two years that new drugs are on the market.
Proponents of the two-year prohibition said the goal was to ensure medicines are safe before allowing them to be promoted to consumers. “We don’t know, and we won’t know, how truly safe a drug is until it’s been used in millions of people,” says Consumer Reports analyst Bill Vaughan. “The real testing of these drugs takes place after a pill hits the market and that’s why the advertising needs to be regulated.”
But Big Pharma says such restrictions would limit its free speech. “In our system of jurisprudence we have a very high threshold that protects the right to free speech, whether it’s political or commercial,” says Jim Davidson, an attorney for the drug company-funded Advertising Coalition. “What they’re saying with this ban is, ‘we don’t know where the harm is, but we know there’s a statistical likelihood that some adverse event will occur, therefore you can’t promote your product.’”
According to Nielsen Media Research, drug companies spent nearly $5 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising last year, and every $1 spent often adds more than $2 in sales.
Big Pharma’s lobbying effort on the legislation paid off. Congress dropped the ad restrictions before final passage of the FDA bill.

The Smokescreen

Cigarettes grace the screen of over 75 percent of all Hollywood movies — including 36 percent of all movies rated G or PG — and kids are taking notice. Among children as young as 10, those exposed to the most smoking on screen are up to 2.7 times as likely as others to start smoking themselves, found a 2003 study by the Harvard School of Public Health.
“Movies are the single largest influence getting kids to smoke today, more powerful even than parenting role models and even cigarette advertising,” says Stanton Glantz, Smoke Free Movies founder and University of California professor of medicine.
With public health groups conducting an aggressive campaign against Hollywood’s glamorization of smoking, some movie studios are beginning to respond. The Walt Disney Company said in July it would ban cigarettes from appearing in its family films and discourage it in others. Disney also stated it would put anti-smoking public service announcements at the beginning of DVDs that contained smoking, a step the leading advocacy organization Smoke Free Movies has been pushing for years.
Smoke Free Movies was critical of Disney for not going far enough, however, as it made no reference to its Touchstone and Miramax marketing labels in its announcement to cut cigarettes from the screen.
In May, the Motion Picture Association of America announced that smoking in movies would now be considered along with sex and violence in determining the rating the movie receives. Films that appear to glamorize smoking may receive a more restrictive rating.
“We think that the simple action of treating smoking in the movies the same way that Hollywood treats abusive language would prevent about 200,000 kids a year from starting to smoke,” says Glantz

- Jennifer Wedekind

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