Pagefield is a British public relations (PR) company that was set up in 2010 and has worked with several tobacco industry clients.
Relationship with the Tobacco Industry
“Helping Distrusted Companies Gain Acceptance”
Pagefield holds a multi-year contract with Philip Morris International (PMI) (see Image 1), which started in 2014 when the company was commissioned by PMI “to help lay the groundwork for the launch of IQOS”, PMI’s new heated tobacco product.
In May 2017, Pagefield won the Gold SABRE Award (Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement) in the category Consumer Marketing New Product for "Launching IQOS and Helping the Tobacco Giant Quit Smoking”.
Reflecting on his work for PMI, Pagefield’s CEO, Oliver Foster, wrote:
- “Working for a tobacco company is always a contentious decision for agencies like ours, especially when the role involves reputation management. Too many consultancies – if they take on that work – are only too happy to conceal the work they are doing. We did the opposite from day one of our three year partnership with Philip Morris’s Reduced Risk business. Up on our website went the Philip Morris logo. Three years later and as recently as last night, we won an international PR industry award for our work launching the groundbreaking IQOS – a reduced risk, heat-not-burn product which is 95% less harmful than standard cigarettes”.
“Lessons” from IQOS Campaign
Foster identified three key elements to the IQOS campaign that could be “applicable to other distrusted companies planning to launch a significant, transformative, new product or business”:
- “Developing a robust argument”. Foster says that it is key to have “a position which is designed to convey or convince, with evidence in support”.
- “Purpose (or values) behind the transformation”. According to Foster, this was the first time PMI was prepared to commit to a smoke-free future, which “made for a more captivating story”.
- “Power of transparency”. Foster says that they pushed Philip Morris to be as open as possible, and “what better way to do this than giving The Today programme full access to the story and Philip Morris’ headquarters and research and development centre in Switzerland”.
Other Tobacco Client: British American Tobacco
Pagefield also consults for British American Tobacco (BAT).
Although BAT’s logo does not appear on Pagefield’s website, multiple entries of the PR firm on the PRCA lobbying register indicate that BAT was a client in 2017/18. In addition, Pagefield consultant Jack Crone, who according to his public LinkedIn profile joined the company in 2019, is listed on the Pagefield website as providing “media relations expertise across a range of clients including Starling, BAT and Zego”.
- Pagefield, Our Clients, undated, accessed February 2019
- O. Foster, Helping distrusted companies gain acceptance, Pagefield website, 2017, accessed February 2019
- 2017 SABRE Awards EMEA Winners, The Holmes Report, undated, accessed February 2019
- World Health Organization, Heated Tobacco Products (HTPS) Information Sheet, May 2018, accessed February 2019
- Heated Tobacco Products, Tobacco Control, Volume 27, Supplementary Issue 1, November 2018
- APPC, Register for 1st September 2017 – 30th November 2017, PRCA website, accessed February 2019
- APPC, Register for 1st December 2017 – 28th February 2018, PRCA website, accessed February 2019
- J. Crone, LinkedIn Profile, linkedin.com, undated, accessed February 2019
- Pagefield, Jack Crone Consultant, 2019, accessed February 2019
- Pagefield, Our Company Partners, undated, accessed February 2019