When Your CEO Smokes More than Tobacco.

It’s bad enough when your CEO looks like a goober, but when he starts talking nonsense that threatens to undermine your entire brand, what do you do?

According to the Associated Press, “The head of cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc. told a cancer nurse Wednesday that while cigarettes are harmful and addictive, it is not that hard to quit.”

Says CEO Louis C. Camilleri, “We take our responsibility very seriously, and I don’t think we get enough recognition for the efforts we make to ensure that there is effective worldwide regulation of a product that is harmful and that is addictive. Nevertheless, whilst it is addictive, it is not that hard to quit. … There are more previous smokers in America today than current smokers.”

“Whilst?” Clearly somebody has gotten into the medical marijuana cabinet.

Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those people who believes other people have the right to make their own choices.  And while I believe it would be better for everyone if no one smoked at all, I am not forcing my opinions on anyone.

But this arrogant jackass needs to check himself before he ruins what little reputation his company has left. Anyone who has ever smoked – and that includes me and Barack Obama – knows how incredibly impossible it is to quit.

So if you’re the head of marketing and communications at Philip Morris, what do you do?

Step One:  Confront CEO Lou with the truth and recommend sensitivity training.

Step Two:  Tell him to sincerely apologize for making cavalier statements about a life and death subject.

Step Three:  Don’t allow him to spin the story with obfuscated messaging.

Step Four:  Tell him to quit smoking publicly to show us all just how easy it is.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.