by Adeola Akinremi, JASETE

Date: Dec 4, 2002

The BAT "Experience It" campaign is currently running in selected six metropolitan cities of Ilorin, Lagos,Abuja,Porthacourt to cover the six geopolitical zone in Nigeria. The plan of BAT is to extend it to the 36 states capitals in Nigeria come next year. BAT launches new pack of its Rothmans cigarette brand at every region where the cinema is shown.The BAT corporate affairs Manager,Mr.KINGSLEY URANTA said "It's same taste with new look that is very attractive."

I watched the COLLATERAL DAMAGE and i found out that certain actor smoke in the film. The meaning of the "Experience It" as i realised at the show venue in Lagos is that there were young attractive ladies who stood at the entrance of the Dome where the movies are being filmed and as soon as you enter they will light the sticks of Rothmance in Their hands and put in your mouth and then chorus "Experience It". This often come suddenly, thus you are bound to cough, which makes the whole people in attendance to burst into laughter. BAT uses the Print Media(Newspapersand Magazines) so much in this campaign.They advertised with colour pages in the dailies.Although they claimed it's for people from 18 years and above, but the show venue indicates prominence in the youth age group.

The Youth wing Tobacco control Advocate of our group demonstrated against this in Lagos at a press conference they held where local press were in attendance. A senior secondary school student who is the Head of the youth wing said ''BAT is targeting youth. It's a share criminal act. The multinationals has hidden agenda and the way they advertise in Nigeria dailies speaks volume of this. They want to conceal the truth, they already have the biggest manufacturing plant in our Country, Nigeria, but truth shall prevail. I am ready to lay down my live to save the lives of others,until i see that BAT is sanctioned in My country."

BAT uses sponsored articles and they oftentime pay journalists for coverage.





Before the entry of the British American Tobacco (BAT), makers of Rothmans Cigarette, into the Nigerian market the Tobacco Industry has maintained a low profile with regards to sales pushing through advertisement and other promotional means. Since the company got approval to invest $150m in tobacco manufacturing plant in Nigeria, it has dominated almost every sphere of the lives of Nigerians most especially the youths.

Giant billboards, aggressive campaign in the media (most especially the print) partnership with Tobacco farmers, provision of employment for jobless graduates and most importantly, its recent foray into the entertainment industry are some of the decoys employed by the tobacco giant in Nigeria. At a press conference in Lagos, on 30 – 09 – 2002 , the Company through its brand Manager JIGWA BHATT, identified the underdevelopment of the Cinema, a segment of the entertainment industry as a veritable tool for BAT to make in road into Nigeria Market.

The Company promised to change and revolutionalise the cinema in Nigeria, “Rothmans in the next few weeks will introduce into Nigeria, a unique International concept in entertainment . First witnessed in Germany and switzer land, known as the Rothmans Experience it tour, It is designed to deliver complete Cinema experience .It is essentially an event that will take place in a huge dome like structure, comprising of a Cinema lobby and theatre”.

This design is evidently a novel thing in Nigeria given Nigeria Youths addiction to movies; The EXPERIENCE IT will feature some of the most current Hollywood movies in six cosmopolitan cities, in a space of 12 weeks. The Cinema Theatre is equipped with a state of the art 35mm film projection unit, completed by digital surround sound system. The dome has a capacity to accommodate 500 people seated in an air-cooled environment.


Rothmans has pride itself on its known values for “quality, authenticity and modernism”. Thus, to attract youths who are the main audience of movies in Nigeria, Rothmans has been able to ‘brainwash’ the youths into the belief that it represents modernity, since every youth wants to feel “big and modern”. According to BHATT, “All the movies have been carefully selected to reflect the modern man’s good taste for action and wit”.

By introducing EXPERIENCE IT, Rothmans deceives Nigerians into the belief that it was going to rescue the Nigerian Film Industry especially the Cinema from extinction. For the show to gain acceptance in the Nigerian movies industry BAT partner with the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA) and Mainframe Productions, which is a well-respected movie-producing corporation in Nigeria.


Tickets were sold for N400 (about $4) at box offices, restaurants, and clubhouses etc days in advance of the movies show.


All movies screened are from the stable of WARNER BROS Pictures.

(1) Collateral Damage
(2) Show Time
(3) Ocean Eleven
(4) Romeo must die


ILORIN, KADUNA, ENUGU, LAGOS ABUJA, PORT-HARCOURT from this choice, Rothmans targets are clear, “the youths”. Each city has at least a Federal University and the largest number of high schools and colleges.


Rothmans show of death debuted in this sleeping boring city whose only attraction is the University located in it. Weeks preceding the main event, the city was flooded with Posters of the event, which has already thrown the tiny literate community into a state of frenzy.

The event was held at the Kwara State Government owned Satellite Motel for three days. The dome actually contains two sections. One was for the movie viewing proper while the other; smaller in size was used as the lobby or reception. Before and during the interlude, the guests could visit the lobby for small chops and drinks at a price. The movies were screened in the night, so guests kept vigil with BAT promotional mix as branded gift were freely distributed. Cigarette were also freely smoked (see THISDAY,a Nigerian newspaper edition of October 24,2002).


The event venue was the serene Ikeja Government Reservation Area (GRA) at the Sky Power playing, ground, which attracts mostly Secondary School Students and other Youths. A lawn tennis court was right beside it, while on the other side is a cathedral church.

The event ran for three days, November 1-3 at this venue and four movies namely, show time, Collateral Damage Ocean Eleven and Romeo must Die were screened.

At the entrance to the playing ground are guards all dressed in Rothman shorts and base ball caps, insular and broad, they are to drive away perceived protesters like tobacco control NGOS On entry, two registration points manned by young ladies would register every guest with a provision to identify smokers and non smokers.

While smokers are encouraged with packs of cigarettes, non-smokers are asked whether they want to experience it. And of course, every youth would want to say yes and the ritual of introducing cigarettes to them begins, as a young lady hills the tobacco movie light his first cigarette, then calmly announces “welcome to Rothmans experience it” and what follows was a lecture on why Rothmans is the best tobacco money can buy and why such a smoker should patronize only the brand.

The shows normally start late in the night (this was not announced in the Promos) and by 2.00p.m, the whole show is completed and guests are free to do whatever they like, though they are encouraged to pick up sticks of Rothmans.


The Lagos show was particularly struck, obviously because of the presence of anti- tobacco campaigners. No pictures were allowed to be taken every one is watched suspiciously by the security details which include men of the Nigeria. Police force and private guards.


The Dome is a 500 capacity crowd, which though fully air-conditioned tends to get hot depending on the crowd. There is a huge screen which shows good quality pictures and sound. According to Tayo Okoye, a media officer, “the pictures Soveiners were larger than life, such that has not been seen in this part of the world”.

These include, shirts, caps, pen, cigarette lighters, all bearing the Rothmans logo. Even popcorn wrappers have specially designed Rothmans logo on it. There are all sorts of brand stretching in this promo exercise of BAT


All the workers employed are youths. A 19-year-old technician, Taiwo says he had worked previously with Benson and hedges( another BAT cigarette brand), but he prefers working for Rothmans as they pay higher though he would not disclose the amount. Other workers are university students and high school leavers.

Since the commencement of “Experience it” Rothmans has launched an advertising onslaught on Nigerians. Every newspaper has an advertisement on BAT every day. The same goes for the magazines.

Rothmans has also introduced “Inserts” into newspapers free of charge.

The high point of BAT “package of death of Nigerians was the launch of its repackaged Rothmans Kingsize. The event was at a dinner held in the specially constructed Rothmans Experience It Dome, located on the ground of highbrow Lagoon Resturant, Victoria Island, where BAT held another Three day Movie show.

BAT’S Marketing Director, Mr. Kingsley wheaton said “the new pack is a contemporary expression of what Rothmans has always stood for the revitalized designs features, a deep blue graded lozenge on a distinct, crisp white background, but this does not in any way affect the distinctive Rothmans’ Virginia taste which still remains the same”.

At the launch, guests were given the new pack as gifts.