BAT uses covert web site – citygobo.com – to push cigs to clubbers and pub-goers. ASH responds with “alternative and truthful” citygobo2 site



Sunday 09 September 2001

ASH press release – Sunday 9 September 2001

BAT uses covert web site to push cigs to clubbers – ASH responds with ‘alternative and truthful’ site

British American Tobacco has set up a web site to give listing of bars, clubs and nightlife with the real – but hidden purpose – of selling cigarettes. The web site is www.citygobo.com and currently covers Poland and Belgium, with plans to go further.

A memo leaked to ASH [1] shows that inside BAT this is known as ‘Project Horeca’ – a 2.5 million pound effort to boost sales of BAT’s cigarette brands in entertainment venues, while helping to escape advertising restrictions. The memo shows that BAT feared that the plan would not work if its target audience – young people- knew that a cigarette company was behind it.

Clive Bates, Director of ASH, said:

“The idea is to persuade young people to visit certain featured venues and then hit them with a barrage of promotional activity. At the same time they want to pitch to entertainment businesses to have them buy in to BAT’s branded supplies, like ashtrays, beer mats, furniture and so on.

“It’s sleazy old tobacco executives trying to flog fags by getting themselves into youth culture. This site deliberately deceives its users by pretending to be an impartial account of what is going on, while actually being an elaborate cigarette promotion.”

ASH does not take such tobacco industry mendacity lying down. We have set up www.citygobo2.com to tell the truth about the BAT project. We are working to ensure that it will come up on the same web searches that hit on Citygobo.

Clive Bates said:

“They’re dealing with streetwise people who just don’t like being lied to and manipulated by slimy marketing tricks.

“One good thing about the web, is that you don’t need a huge media spend to get your point over. If we had to buy billboards or newspaper ads to warn about BAT’s duplicity, we wouldn’t be able to afford it. I suppose the web helps the little guy go global too.”

“BAT should identify itself as the owner of the site and explain what it is up to so that users can judge forthemselves.

[1] Memo leaked to ASH