American Tobacco, 1984-1994

Between 1984 and 1994, American Tobacco paid a product placement firm upwards of $675,000 to put its brands on screen. [1] The product placement agency claimed that it delivered cigarettes, brand signage, and unspecified “incentives” to nearly four hundred Hollywood film productions during those years. [2]

Yet in 19901991 and 1992, American Tobacco told the Federal Trade Commission that the company “did not pay or agree to pay consideration in money, product, or other form to have its cigarette brand names or tobacco products appear in any motion pictures…” [3]

Note 1 | Based on contracts and other communications between American Tobacco and Unique Product Placement, Inc. (later UPP Entertainment Marketing) for 1982 ($25,000), 1983 ($27,500), 1984 ($30,000), 19851986, and 1987 ($45,000), 1988 ($50,000), 1989 ($55,000), 1990 ($60,000), 19911992, and 1993 ($67,500), and 1994 ($67,500; additional reference) — as well as $29,000 (value of “Props, product…promotion/incentives”) and $12,000 (value of “Props, Materials, etc.”).

The total amount cited ($675,000) does not include the value of all the tobacco products American Tobacco sent to UPP for film productions (numerous references).

Note 2 | See UPP report to American Tobacco, half a dozen other quarterly and annual lists reported by UPP to its client; and numerous other “feature memos,” “results memos” and “monthly updates” from UPP through April, 1994. Total number cited does not include thirty-six films, nominated by UPP, whose release could not be confirmed. 

Note 3 | American Tobacco’s “Special Report” answer to “Item #6,” a specific question from the Federal Trade Commission about product placement, for 19901991, and 1992.

American Tobacco was absorbed by British American Tobacco after 1994.