A Southeast Asian anti-tobacco group on Friday demanded cigarette maker Sampoerna withdraw a billboard advertisement they deemed “irresponsible.”
The advertisement depicts two young men standing on the edge of the door of a moving bus holding on to their friend who was getting left behind. The sentence “Lebih baik pulang nama daripada tinggalkan teman” (It’s better to die that leave your friend behind) was written on the image.
To the right of the image was the Sampoerna logo and the tagline, “A fun friend.”
“We are objecting mainly to the fact that it is an irresponsible advertisement, and that it is ludicrous to call a hazardous product that kills half its users, a ‘friend,’” Joy F. Alampay, communications manager for the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), told the Jakarta Globe.
SEATCA director Bungon Ritthiphakdee also condemned the advertisement, which she said “brings cigarette marketing to a new low.”
“It is simply despicable for PT Sampoerna to trash the Indonesian people in this manner,” she continued. “The Indonesian authorities should act immediately and bring down this offensive advertisement.”
The disputed billboard was spotted on a number of toll roads in Jakarta’s outskirts, including Bekasi and Depok.
A source at Sampoerna told the Jakarta Globe that the issue has caused a commotion inside the company, with Philip Morris officials in Hong Kong demanding an explanation.
“They are preparing a statement but first it has to be approved by Hong Kong,” the source said.
Philip Morris International acquired the majority of PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna in 2005.