This print and outdoor ad for the largest AIDS service organization in Canada debuted during Gay Pride and brought the wrath of the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, Philip Morris. It parodies the popular brand's Marlboro Man campaign and borrows of the well known slogan, "Welcome to Marlboro Country."
"In the look and feel we believe it's very similar and it concerns us," National Post quoted Robert Kaplan, Philip Morris's director of communications, saying. "We object to any unauthorized use of our intellectual property." He added, "We have no problem with the cause, we understand the importance of the cause ... it's more about the use of what feels like something that's very similar to our own intellectual property."
In response, Charles Roy, executive director of ACT, said, "Our ad tried to be a parody on any number of ads that have been running over the past 30 years that target a macho male image. There are truck ads that have cowboys and bales of hay and horses. Any kind of consumer product that targets men has a tradition of using this macho male cowboy image, and cigarette companies, when they were able to advertise in Canada, were no exception."
He said ACT checked with lawyers before the campaign and that they said it would not infringe any copyright.
The Toronto Transit Commission registered several hundred complaints against the ads, supported by $400,000 (Canadian), however the "number of complaints paled in comparison to the number of positive responses received," according to media buyer Robert Vitella.