Cigarette advertisers in Indonesia know that if it is cool, it sells.
Tobacco Control said advertising appeals to youth by understanding both culture and markets.
This is why cigarettes are branded for particular socially and culturally divisible market segments.
“Advertising at once sells products by reproducing culture and associating these products with core traditional values, and by producing culture by promoting commodities, such as cigarettes, as icons of cultural change, modernity and globalisation. Cultural knowledge is necessary for an understanding of the deeply nuanced statements and images embedded in advertisements that refer to a wide range of social values, group aspirations and anxieties,” Tobacco Control research reported.
Indonesia does not have legislation to prevent tobacco manufacturers from ruthless advertising; therefore children become slated as consumers to increase the market of tobacco users.
At present only 1-3 percent of Indonesian women smoke, compared to 62 percent of men.
This explains prolific male orientated advertising and a culture of smoking that young boys learn as a masculine expression.
While young females are now appearing in advertisements that appeal to the image of an educated modern woman, it is both males and females Tobacco brands commonly sponsor concerts and sports events in Indonesia, popping up in diverse forms and accessing youth through brand awareness and association.
The under 20 age group in Indonesia has mass market potential and is currently being accessed via popular culture.
Today’s young consumer may be well placed to read the codes and conventions of most explicit advertising such as dubious connections made between athletes and smoking, but an otherwise media savvy generation is unreservedly exposed to more and more innovative marketing campaigns via pop culture and social communications.
Advertising to youth revolves around image , identity and social acceptance.
Ingrained social and cultural practices help to hook the consumer, then branding ideally creates loyalty and positive identification, such as when associated with favourite artists or sporting stars.
However, last year in July, Phillip Morris International (PMI) withdrew its sponsorship of Alicia Keys’ concert in Jakarta upon the request of Miss Keys and of critics who said the marketing appealed to children.
This January, lobby groups such as Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, as well as Indonesian health leaders and public health leaders from around the world, called for PMI to withdraw its sponsorship from the Marlboro Rock in Orchestra concert series.
Dr Mary Asunta, Senior Policy Advisor for South East Asian Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) said, “Promoting tobacco to a nation where half the population lives on less than $2.00 a day is scandalous. It is outrageous for Phillip Morris to continue trapping Indonesia’s vulnerable youth by sponsoring music events in such an unabated manner.”
Phillip Morris International did not withdraw sponsorship of the event.
In a Jakarta Post article, Sampoerna’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Mr Yos Ginting, said PMI and Sampoerna, which is a subsidiary of PMI, have been consistent in supporting efforts to prevent children from smoking.
“Issues surrounding tobacco, such as youth smoking and public smoking, are best addressed through government legislation or regulation,” said Mr Ginting.
The central Jakarta District Court is in agreement, last week dismissing a request to government from the Indonesian Consumer Foundation (YKLI) to ratify the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control.
Mr Sudaryatmo, a lawyer on the YKLI team, said judges considered it a matter of policy that could only be settled through general elections, but they will appeal the dismissal at the High Court.
It remains usual for children as young as ten to be seen in public smoking, or selling cigarettes among the traffic.
There is both little policing to prevent this and an ingrained social acceptance of smoking through a prolific culture of production and consumption.
Tobacco manufacturers in Indonesia wield huge political and economic power that enables them to market to children, while still resisting responsibility and liability.
They are the fourth largest source of government revenue behind oil timber and gas.
Tobacco Control states that tobacco manufacturers employ about 11 million workers in Indonesia, the largest employer after the government.
Phillip Morris International
South East Asian Tobacco Control Alliance, Dr Mary Assunta, Senior Policy Advisor
World Health Organisation