Friday, January 03, 2014

229 Georgia Preschoolers Killed Joe Camel

Joe Camel was a smooth character of the '80s. He was one of the tools of the evil cigarette industry's attempt to lure children into the deadly habit of smoking. Joe was in magazine advertisements always doing the coolest things usually with a very attractive lady nearby and a Camel cigarette in his mouth. Joe died in 1997 due to public pressure, litigation, Congressional harrumphing and child advocacy groups. These groups all forced the Camel to get rid of Old Joe, but the genesis and heart wrenching fact justifying the moral imperative was the brand recognition ability of 229 preschool children in Georgia.

Top Gun Joe Camel
In the December 1991 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a study was published that showed how kids as young as 3 could recognize Joe Camel and that young children's recognition of Joe Camel was on par with Mickey Mouse by age six. The interesting part of the study was that Joe Camel was introduced to American audiences in 1987, and the character was already being attacked as a predatory figure. The campaign had been in place three years yet the concern was that Joe was corrupting our nation's youth. No one attacked the studies methodology and it was used immediately by the New York Times to push the attack on smoking, smokers and tobacco firms.

The credentialed doctors created a study that was published by JAMA, to then be used by the NY Times to inform readers that cigarette companies were brainwashing children. Congressman Henry Waxman cited the danger. If Waxman sounds familiar, it's because he pushes anti-global warming initiatives. The NY Times never asked how many children there were in the study (229), they never asked how many six year olds there were (23), and the paper never stopped to ask what the make up of those specific six year olds were (race, gender, parents were smokers). The journal even cites that the sample was a convenience sample due to its size and scope. The scare 'fact' is that Joe Camel recognition was on par with the Disney Channel, "Oh no, children love Disney and they know Joe Camel like Disney, oh no". It is to get you the reader to feel, not think. Imagine if just two more six year olds incorrectly identified Joe Camel. With a sample size of twenty-three, each kid is worth roughly 4.5% for that bar graph comparison. With two more wrongs, the spread between Joe + Mickey would have been too wide to say "on par". Must have made the researchers nervous. Did they video the study? No, so we have to take their word for it. They wouldn't lie to push a progressive agenda.

The NY Times mentions that there was no rise in teenage smoking, but we all must kill the camel. Maybe the Times should have reviewed the figures for other products. Looking at table 1 in the study, Joe Camel is recognized at a lower rate than Disney, McDonald's, Burger King, Domino's Pizza, Coke, Pepsi, Nike Chevrolet and Ford. The Disney Channell logo recognition is amazing because even in 1991, the Disney Channel was still a stand alone subscription channel and not included in basic cable packages in some parts of the nation (unsure if in Georgia in 1991). By December 1991, adult and childhood obesity rates were nearly a decade into the long term trend of never ending increases. With the media advertising budgets of those big names, it was probably best to sweep concerns for the uptick in obesity under the rug. No fears there; eat up and consume disposable goods kiddies!

Smoking was the evil of the moment. Killing Joe Camel was part of the 1990s anti-tobacco crusade that was a massive shakedown of the industry. It was a payoff for roughly every part of the cathedral. Lawyers got paid. Governments at multiple levels received funding. Lobbyists got paid. Entire new government service jobs were created out of nowhere to remain vigilant and monitor smoking and air quality in all areas of the nation. In a sneaky way, cigarette advertising funds, which had been banned from television by law, were distributed once again to television media properties by forced anti-smoking and smoking cessation campaigns. Joe Camel and his seduction of our children became a face for the evil tobacco firms. He had to go, and fewer toddlers than you would find at a Wiggles concert was the weapon of choice. It's for the children.

1 comment:

peterike said...

I liked how some people would point out that Joe Camel's nose was so obviously a semi-subliminal penis. See, all those little chilluns was lured in by the subliminal sex as well as the cool factor of Joe Camel.

Did anyone ever ask how many pre-schoolers actually smoked? Or ask them their opinion of smoking, rather than just "recognition" of a goofy advertising character?

Ahh well. One thing you learn over time is that the moment anyone says "it's for the children" you know they're out for money or power, or both.