Share the Mic: Predatory Visual Marketing by Big Tobacco
Many artworks by Ghanaian painter Almighty God feature textual variations on a campaign against smoking. “I will stop smoking for it kills gradually” is frequently included alongside images of animals, celebrities, plants, and even personified cigarettes preaching a mantra of conversion to everyone passing by the Almighty God Art Works studio. Almighty God was aware of the major 1991 legal case in the United States that documented and accused R.J. Reynolds (Camel’s parent company) of targeting and attracting youth to the cigarette brand by marketing Joe Camel as hip and cool.
Join us for a panel discussion inspired by Almighty God’s anti-smoking artworks currently on view in our galleries. Experts in marketing, public health, and community organizing through artivism will discuss the predatory visual marketing strategies employed by Big Tobacco in the US and Africa; the resulting impact on and resistance by targeted Black communities; and the capacity of street art to reflect and reinforce the values of a community.
Tracy Brown is an Independent Curator, Artivist (Artist Activist), Capacity Building Consultant, and community worker. Born in San Francisco, CA, she received her MA in Arts Politics (Art and Public Policy) from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Brown curated Same Game Different Smokers, an exploration of the aggressively pernicious relationship between the tobacco industry and the Black Community for the past 400+ years. She was formerly Project Manager & Resident Artivist for the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC).
Dr. Arti Singh is a public health physician and faculty in Epidemiology and Global Health at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. She is also a research fellow for the Global Challenges Research Fund’s Tobacco Control Capacity Program for Ghana. Her research interests include non-communicable diseases, with a main focus on tobacco control in Ghana. She has researched secondhand smoke exposure, illicit tobacco trade, cigarette warning labels, and tobacco industry interference in Ghana.
Share the Mic
We at the Fowler believe in the civic duty of museums to give forum to multiple points of view. This series features thought leaders—artists, activists, and allies—who are guiding us along the arc of justice.
Image credit: Kwame Akoto (Almighty God) (b. 1950, Kumasi, Ghana), Joe Camel, I Will Stop Smoking for it Kills Gradually. Why Spend Money On What does not Satisfy? Why spend your wages and still be hungry? Listen to me and do What I say, and you will enjoy the best food of all. ISAIAH 55:2, 1993; pigment on plywood; Fowler Museum at UCLA, X96.33.7; Gift of Doran H. Ross