This time of year, shareholders bombard corporations with new proposes about executive pay, governance and other secrets. But once in a while, an suggestion comes along that really stands out. This year’s reward may go to Daniel Morrison, who asked Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, to increase TV and radio advertisements for its cigs and smokeless tobacco products.
This is the only method that potential clients will find out about new products, or be tempted to switch smoking brands. He also asked Altria to investigate how it could advertise products online, on smartphones, by messages and even on satellite radio.
In a recent letter to Altria’s control panel, Morrison wrote that “hundreds of millions” of Americans have never heard watchwords like “Come to where the aroma is” or “You get a lot to like with a Marlboro cigarettes.”
“This new proposal is not about selling more smoking products. This is about freedom,” he explained.
Morrison described himself as a solitary city employee who owns almost $9,500 worth of stock in Altria, which held its yearly meeting Thursday in Richmond, Va.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which received his letter along with other shareholder suggestions, isn’t permitted to issue details about Morrison.
Altria asked the government for permission to reject Morrison’s suggestion from its shareholder ballot. For one thing, the company proposes, Morrison didn’t send a written statement that he intends to delay his shares through the conference, as the SEC requires, or even proof that he is a shareholder.
More significant, his new proposal would require breaking the legislation: Cigarettes companies have been prohibited from advertising cigs on TV for more than four decades. They’re also prohibited from any marketing that could be construed as youth-oriented, and the government is considering more restrictions on advertising smoking products via new media and new technology, such as the Internet, emails or even smartphones.