“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” proposed a clever solution for tobacco companies struggling to expand their brand images while negotiating local marketing laws.
On Sunday night’s HBO comedy series, Oliver unveiled a mocking mascot to sell cigarettes while reminding the public of their harmful health effects: Jeff, the diseased lung wearing a cowboy hat.
“I could get angry and call tobacco companies assholes, or monsters, or open sores on Satan’s dick,” the host told the audience. “Instead, let’s try and broker peace.”
The segment quickly trended on social media under the boastful #JeffWeCan.
The mascot, which plays on Marlboro’s iconic cowboy imagery, joined Oliver on stage, coughing uncontrollably. Oliver cut to video of real Jeff billboards already on display in Montevideo, Uruguay. “We also — and don’t be mad — we made Jeff t-shirts which were shipped to Togo.”
“Everyone loves Jeff, the diseased lung in a cowboy hat,” Oliver said as children crowded the stage, cheering.
Oliver spent most of the 18-minute segment blasting tobacco companies like Philip Morris International for filing onerous lawsuits against poorer countries. The legal actions are a response to the practice in such countries — like Togo, with its low literacy rate — of posting graphic images that depict smoking’s harmful effects.
Below are some tweets:
— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) February 16, 2015
— Ninjas for Health (@ninjasforhealth) February 16, 2015
— nan f. (@nanoatl) February 16, 2015
— John Mayer (@JohnMayer) February 16, 2015
— Rami Abu ghazaleh (@Rami_AG) February 16, 2015
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