An anti-smoking ad campaign did not "vilify or personally attack tobacco companies or their employees", the Supreme Court of Delaware ruled Monday.
The case - an appeal against an earlier decision by Delaware's lower Chancery Court - was brought by US cigarette colossus Lorillard Tobacco against the American Legacy Foundation, was dismissed.
ALF, a not-for-profit entity, is dedicated to persuading young people to reject tobacco and help them quit the habit. Its campaigning is primarily funded by the US tobacco trade - part of a 1999 settlement between the industry and a coalition of attorneys general in forty-six states and five US territories.
Legacy launched its Lorillard-offending Truth campaign in 2000 via lead ad agencies Arnold Worldwide in Boston and Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami.
The court found that the agencies' work was not "invidious, disparaging, offensive, belligerent, nor fiercely or severely critical," as claimed by the tobacco titan.
"Nor are [the ads] denouncements that are both unfounded and abusive or slanderous. The tone of the youth in the advertisements is usually expressly friendly or helpful, even if implicitly drawing attention to unflattering facts about past actions of tobacco companies or their employees."
No Lorillard corporate representative was available to comment on the court's decision.
Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff