The Marlboro Man Goes Under The PR Knife

Tobacco behemoth Philip Morris executives announced late last year that it was time for a full-scale corporate makeover centering on changing the company's name to Altria. "After spending the quarter billion dollars ceaselessly touting their philanthropic efforts, the tobacco giant still ranked second to last -- beating only exploding tire maker Bridgestone Firestone -- in a survey of corporate reputations, conducted by The Reputation Institute and Harris Interactive. Many observers believe the impetus behind the proposed change is to put distance between the company's lucrative stock and its unseemly tobacco image," CorpWatch's Tom Price writes. As with all good PR campaigns, only the public's perception of the company would be addressed and not the nature of Philip Morris' business. "Anti-smoking groups are crying foul, saying the name change is a cynical attempt to distance the company from its tobacco roots without changing its product lines," Price writes.