From 1978 to 1988, Philip Morris USA used a West Coast consultant and a brand placement firm to supply tobacco products, advertising signage, and cash ("fees") to at least 130 Hollywood movie productions.
In 1983, Brown & Williamson was told that Philip Morris budgeted $2 million annually to pay film producers. A Philip Morris budget document pegged spending in 1988 at $100,000.
In 1991, a note from Philip Morris’ associate general counsel commented: “In the past even Philip Morris USA sought and paid for product placement.”
Yet each year from 1979 to 1988, when the U.S. Federal Trade Commission asked Philip Morris USA if it had spent anything to gain product placement, the company said it had not done so. (Details below)
In November 2006, after a federal judge found Philip Morris and the other major cigarette companies had violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, and were likely to continue to do so, Philip Morris USA ran a few ads in the Hollywood trade press asking filmmakers not to use the company’s brands in their movies and to keep smoking out of films “directed at youth.”
Philip Morris details | These results are based on Philip Morris' own “Special Reports” to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC compiles these individual company reports into annual audits of the tobacco industry's domestic marketing expenditures, reported to Congress.
For 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984, Philip Morris attested “No expenditures were made for endorsements and testimonials during calendar year” directly below the reference to the category, variously called “Item 8 (l)” and “Item 8 (m),” described in this way:
This category includes, but is not limited to, all expenditures made to procure cigarette use, or the mention of a cigarette product or name or package or other representation associated with a cigarette product or company, in any situation (e.g., motion pictures, stage shows, public appearances by a celebrity) where such use, mention, or appearance may come to the attention of the public...
For 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988, Philip Morris reported no “Category L” expenditures (the “endorsements and testimonial” category):
(24) CAT-L-EXPENSES…This item includes, but is not limited to, all expenditures made to procure cigarette use, or the mention of a cigarette product or company name, or the appearance of a cigarette product or name, or package, in any situation (e.g., motion pictures, stage shows, public appearance by a celebrity) where such use, mention or appearance may come to the attention of the public.
Philip Morris changed its corporate name to Altria in 2003 and spun off Philip Morris International in 2008.