Joe Camel, the controversial cartoon character who pitched Camel cigarettes, is being yanked from all of R.J. Reynolds' billboard advertising through the end of the year, the News & Observer reported Thursday.
The tobacco company says Joe Camel is simply tired - at least where his appeal to consumers is concerned - and needs a short vacation."Joe has always been just one of several advertising symbols we use to promote Camel," RJR spokeswoman Maura Ellis said. "He's worked very well, but we decided he needed a short break to keep him fresh from a marketing standpoint."
RJR will keep the traditional Joe Camel, featured on the brand's packs for decades, in a limited number of print advertisements and some retail promotional materials, the newspaper reported. However, it will compete with an updated, neon-outlined version of the camel.
Ellis said the timing of the camel's hiatus has nothing to do with proposed Food and Drug Administration regulations intended to fight underage smoking. Some anti-smoking advocates have contended the camel was specifically designed to appeal to children.