Cancer and Tobacco Control

Cigarette firm pulls ‘racist’ monkey ads, but branding stays

Written by Wilma Stassen

A South Korean tobacco company is pulling an advertising campaign depicting African tobacco farmers as monkeys after complaints of racism. However, similar imaging on the cigarette packs will remain.

South Korea’s largest tobacco company, KT&G, recently launched a new brand of cigarettes, called ‘This Africa.’  Posters printed ahead of the launch featured pictures of monkeys dressed as news reporters, declaring “Africa is coming!”

The cigarette packets also contain images of monkeys roasting tobacco.

In an earlier statement calling for a withdrawal of the campaign, the African Tobacco Control Alliance said that they were “deeply offended by KT&G’s shameless and insulting use of this mocking imagery.”

It added: “Mocking Africa to sell a product that causes death and disease is unacceptable, and we will not stand for the exploitation of Africa by tobacco companies.”

According to recent news reports, KT&G promised to pull the ads this month, but explained that the images were used to illustrate that the product contains African tobacco roasted and dried in a traditional fashion.

“We absolutely had no intention to offend anyone and only chose monkeys because they are delightful animals that remind people of Africa,” a KT&G spokeswoman told French news service, Agence France-Presse.

Although the company promised to remove the advertising campaign, it said that the images on the cigarette packets will remain as the company does not consider them to be offensive. – Health-e News Service 

About the author

Wilma Stassen

Wilma Stassen is a reporter at Health-e News Service. She focuses on non-communicable diseases. Follow her on Twitter @Lawim