Celebrity Vetting Killed $250 Million Government Campaign

Celebrity Vetting Killed $250 Million Government Campaign; Deja Vu; Professor Saved Earlier Campaign Featuring “Controversial” Brooke Shields

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Q3 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

A $265 Million Government Campaign Got Killed

WASHINGTON D.C. (October 29, 2020) - A $265 million government campaign was killed because of the political views and backgrounds of some of the celebrities involved, reports today's New York Times, while a law professor who used legal action to save another program scheduled to be cancelled because of celebrity background says "deja vu."

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This isn't the first time HHS has bowed to pressure and cancelled a major and expensive public education campaign, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who played a major role in another situation in which the Reagan administration refused to release a very effective antismoking campaign because a celebrity had a background which displeased the administration.

HHS under President Jimmy Carter, having discovered that trying to simply scare teens into not trying cigarettes was not very effective, decided to instead try a tactic suggested by Banzhaf and his antismoking organization; poke fun at the popular cigarette adverting message that smoking made a person sexy, suave, sophisticated, and sociable.

Brooke Shields Poked Fun At The Industry's Messages

So the agency paid almost $70,000 in 1980 dollars to produce video messages in which teen actress Brooke Shields poked fun at the industry's messages by putting cigarettes in her ears and proclaiming that it made her sexy.

In another planned campaign message, she told teens that "If there's anything I hate, it's washing my hair and then being with people who smoke."

However, by the time the messages were supposed to debut, Ronald Reagan had assumed office, and his officials determined that Shields - probably the best known and most influential teen at the time - was just too sexy for this new conservative administration.

So Banzhaf threatened to file a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] complaint to obtain the already-filmed video messages, and to then make them available to large public health organizations such as the American Lung Association to broadcast.

His tactic was successful, and the Brooke Shields antismoking messages were aired. They proved to be very effective, says Banzhaf.