Joe Camel advertising campaign

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The Joe Camel advertising campaign was a contentious cigarette ad campaign put on by R.J. Reynolds for Camel cigarettes from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.

On December 11,1991, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published three articles on R.J. Reynolds' "Joe Camel" campaign. One article described a study done with preschoolers in the state of Georgia that concluded that Joe Camel was almost as recognizable to 6 year olds as Mickey Mouse. Another article stated that said the ad campaign had successfully grown Camel's share of the market among underage smokers from 0 .5%to 32 .8%.

The articles ignited a flame of controversy surrounding the Joe Camel ad campaign. Within weeks of the publication of the articles, San Francisco attorney Janet Mangini filed a lawsuit against RJR charging that the Joe Camel ad campaign targeted youth. California laws allows citizens to file what are generally referred to as "private attorney general" suits representing the people of the state. Ms. Mangini sought to have the Joe Camel campaign stopped, to force RJR to disgorge profits made through sales to underage buyers and to require RJR run a corrective advertising program.

The Mangini lawsuit proceeded through numerous court rulings and was finally scheduled to go to trial in December 1997. In the meantime, several cities and counties in California filed similar suits.

In May 1997, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also filed a complaint against RJR and its Joe Camel ad campaign, saying the campaign violated federal law and induced children to smoke. The FTC sought to have RJR discontinue the campaign. [1]

In 1997, RJR settled the Mangini suit and announced that it was replacing its Joe Camel campaign with a new ad program. The company took down the Joe Camel billboards and switched to new print ads. The agreement included a $10 million payment, $9 million of which went to the cities and counties to fund educational, enforcement and advertising programs to dissuade youth smoking.[2]


  1. U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Joe Camel advertising campaing violates federal law, FTC says, press release, May 28, 1997
  2. Peggy Carter Mangini agreementLetter/email. September 11, 1997. Bates No. 522532148
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