AIDS Committee of Toronto, Kiss


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 also registered several hundred complaints against the ads, which were supported by $400,000 (Canadian).

User Comments
While I like the image, this is one of those double-edged swords. The target audience of gay men hopefully see it as a warning to be careful, but non-gays might tend to read it as "men being sexual with other men has caused a rise in HIV in Toronto."

John Davison
As part of the task force who delivered this campaign, I thought it might he helpful for you to know that this campaign was designed as a response to health department data that showed a huge spike in new infections among "men who have sex with men." The men-only target was deliberate.

It makes it look like it's only two gay men that transmit HIV. To keep it fair, why not put a lesbian couple and a male/female couple in same ad. HIV doesn't discriminate, so why should the ad?