How Tobacco Advertising Touch Indonesians’ Prestige

Smokers’ Haven: How Tobacco Advertising Touch Indonesians’ Prestige

Indonesia, with its 200+ millions population, now has the third largest smokers after China and India. Despite half a million people die every year due to smoking-related diseases, tobacco is still one the biggest comodity here. As one of my pharmacist friend once said, cigarette is a zero-benefit product; it does not give any profit to the consumer whatsoever.

Other than the loose regulations of tobacco selling, advertising is one the keys why tobacco industry is still a big deal in Indonesia. Tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship is generally allowed in Indonesia, with restrictions. Advertising on TV is restricted to between 21:30 and 05:00. Advertisements may not show cigarettes, cigarette packs, or the use of cigarettes or tobacco. Even with these limitations, tobacco advertisers have been extremely successful in marketing their product.

Two crucial points of their strategy: bombard and blend.

1. Bombard

Put as many advertisement as possible. Bandung is one of the cities where enormous amount of cigarettes’ printed advertisements is found. In the 3-km highway near Gedung Sate alone, we can see more than 200 banners. Conventional advertising of cigarettes is so prolific, so abundant that it has become one with the Indonesian landscape. Halfway in Jakarta-Bandung route, we can see a huge, neon landmark showing one of Indonesia’s biggest cigarette brand.

2. Blend

The idea is simple: put in tobacco into every aspects of everyday life. Though an activity has no seemingly something to do with smoking, tobacco advertisers keep trying to push their product in. Music concert, volleyball tournament, library building. Even on a mosque banner saying “Selamat Menunaikan Ibadah Puasa” (“Happy Fasting”), we could find some cigarette brand on it. This is a highly remarkable example of how tobacco advertising has become one with Islam in Indonesia, considering 90% of Indonesians are muslims. It is why, until today, MUI has not issued any fatwa declaring smoking is haram.

This gone as far as politics. Some ads points out witty commentaries about culture system in Indonesia, making it is easier for audience to repetitively state and refer to these commentaries everytime they talk about that particular topic which, in turn, remind people of the cigarette’s brand which bring it up.

Tobacco advertising is a serious business in Indonesia. Even these advertisements constantly trying to target women. Though it is not cuturally acceptable for Indonesian women to smoke, some of the ads still include women, implying that women are just equal to men in their right to smoke. Bombard and blend, two most basic strategy of advertising, have been used to such an extent by tobacco industry in Indonesia.

Tugas mata kuliah Bisnis Periklanan, Sekolah Bisnis dan Manajemen ITB. Sayang kalau cuma nyempil di folder kuliah.</em