Halogen Communications

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Background

Halogen Communications is an independent communications consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland with an international office in Washington DC.[1]

Working with Philip Morris International

Halogen Press Release, November 2013

Since 2013, Halogen has been working with Philip Morris International (PMI) and ex-Policeman Will O’Reilly to undermine the Scottish government’s plans for plain packaging.

The founder of Halogen refers to its PMI work as an “exciting account”. [2] The intensity of the anti-plain packaging campaign increased after it became a possibility that the Scottish government might unilaterally implement plain packaging.

Illicit Reached “Endemic” Levels in Scotland

The public relations strategy employed by Halogen and PMI in Scotland is an extension of the same one employed by the tobacco company against plain packaging in England.

Just as the tobacco companies have done in England, Halogen has been scaremongering over the so-called increase in illicit tobacco as a consequence of plain packaging. By November 2013, the PR company was arguing the problem had reached “endemic” levels in Scotland. [3]

That same month, Halogen worked with PMI to disseminate a report by the accountancy firm KPMG which argued that the percentage of illicit had increased in Australia, post the introduction of plain packaging. [4] Although the report had been dismissed by public health organisations in the country [5], Halogen’s press release argued that the Australian report “should give Scottish Government pause for thought”.[6]

The PR company continued the illicit scaremongering tactic into 2014, arguing that illegal tobacco was “rife” across Scotland in February 2014, after releasing the results of a survey by Will O’Reilly.[7]

Other Clients

Working With British Curlers

Ironically, at the same time as working for one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, Halogen was also working with British Olympians.

A month before the winter Olympics, in January 2014 it was announced that Halogen had won the contract with the British Curling team for the games in Sochi. “Halogen will be helping the organisation raise the profile of the Olympic team, as well as the individual curlers, and their stories, as the Games approaches.” [8]

Fighting Heart Disease

The company has also been highlighting dangers of heart disease with the City of Glasgow College. In February 2014, Halogen posted on its website that students and staff at City of Glasgow College, which is one of its clients, had raised hundreds of pounds in a campaign against heart disease. “Representatives of the college handed out literature and set up information desks to raise awareness of heart disease and its causes”, read the article on Halogen’s website. [9]

External Resources


TobaccoTactics Resources

Notes

  1. Halogen, Website, accessed February 2014
  2. All Media Scotland.com, That Was the Year That Was: John Crawford Director Halogen Communications, 31 December 2013, accessed February 2014
  3. Halogen Communications, Illicit Tobacco Trade Endemic in Scotland, Press Release, 21 November 2013, accessed February 2014
  4. KPMG, Illicit Tobacco in Australia, October 2013, accessed February 2014
  5. Paul Farrell, Illegal tobacco consumption increases, survey funded by cigarette firms says SW Cancer Council spokesman calls research 'latest in a long line' of reports aimed at undermining good public health policy, The Guardian, 4 November 2013, accessed February 2014
  6. Alex Schweitzer-Thompson, “Subject: Evidence of illicit cigarette trade in Australia should give Scottish Government pause for thought,” Halogen Communications, 4 November 2013, accessed February 2014
  7. PMI, Region-By-Region Investigation Finds Scotland is Rife in Illicit Tobacco Trade, Press Release, undated circa February 2014
  8. Halogen Communications, Halogen wins British Curling Account, Press Release, 9 January 2014
  9. Halogen Communications, City of Glasgow College joins campaign fighting heart disease, 7 February 2014, accessed February 2014