Our client is part of the tobacco sector which, of course, is heavily regulated in most countries in the world.

Every two years the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control meets to debate new ways of restricting tobacco usage.

There is very little – if any – natural sympathy for stakeholders in this market, and most politicians are intrinsically hostile and the media reluctant to see any positive aspects to the sector.

In 2012, the WHO tabled a series of policy recommendations urging governments to gradually phase-out tobacco farming.

Strategy/Action Plan/Result

In the six months in the run-up to the WHO Convention, ReadDillon launched an international media campaign to highlight the economic devastation that would be caused to some of the poorest countries in the world if tobacco farming was phased-out.

We focussed on the fact that there are 30 million tobacco farmers in the world, the majority from poverty-stricken African countries such as Malawi, which is dependent on tobacco for 60% of its national income.

ReadDillon generated extensive media coverage of the issue in the international media, and the CEO of our client appeared on Sky News, BBC World TV News, CNBC, Al Jazeera and China Central Television News and delivered the core campaign messages.

As part of an integrated international campaign, we produced briefing documents for tobacco growers’ groups in every continent, created a website, launched an active social media campaign on Twitter, produced a short film (using the voices and faces of farmers), staged a World Tobacco Day and commissioned research showing the number of tobacco-dependent jobs in Africa.

The international media campaign was led out of London, although our Cape Town office managed the pan-African element. Specific countries were targeted, as they were known to be wavering about WHO’s proposals.

Ultimately, most of these countries either opposed WHO’s proposals or abstained – therefore, no international consensus was reached and the issue was ‘parked’ indefinitely.