I: A DECADE OF DECEIT:
Philip Morris founded the ASEAN Arts Awards, a regional arts competition for artists based in countries within ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), in 1994. A decade later, the Awards have become the most prestigious arts competition in the region. Philip Morris remains the primary financial sponsor of the awards, which are also supported by the ASEAN Secretariat and 33 national art institutions throughout the region.
The arts competition, once an annual event, now takes place every two years. Artists are chosen to compete in the ASEAN final, following simultaneous competitions at the national level. Previous ASEAN Art Award Finals have been held in Singapore (1994, 2000), Jakarta (1995), Bangkok (1996), Manila (1997), Hanoi (1998), Kuala Lumpur (1999), and Bali (2002).
During the past decade, artists from 10 countries have been eligible to submit works, including : Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam (countries vary from year to year). Artists may submit two-dimensional forms of art up to 2 x 2 meters in size and created in the past two years. Participating countries and art organizations nominate a panel of internationally renowned judges to assess the entries. At the ASEAN level, one Grand Prize ($15,000) and five juror-choice prize award ($5,000) winners are chosen.
18,000 works of art have been submitted to the competition since it started,
and over 150,000 people have attended the awards.
What Philip Morris Gets Out of the ASEAN Art Awards
Publicly, Philip Morris likes to talk about its love of the arts. As Ellis Woodward, Vice President of Philip Morris Asia Limited said at the 2002 Awards:
executives have also referred to the competition as Art for Arts
company boasts on its website of supporting arts worldwide, noting
that art is a unique way for a society to define, express and understand
its experience; for a company that sees itself firmly rooted in society,
arts sponsorship is a given.
But privately, the company is much more candid about the real reason for its support of the ASEAN Art Awards. C. Goddard of Philip Morris Asia Region noted in a 1997 company speech that:
Philip Morris International Weekly Highlights from the 1990s detail many of the government ministries befriended and favorable media coverage obtained through the ASEAN Art Awards. The company classifies them under the category public relations. Here are a few examples:
What some of these senior government officials have to say about Philip Morris sponsorship of the Awards:
The ASEAN Arts Award is a highly effective tool for Philip Morris to gain credibility, positive public relations, and access to government officials and ministries who have the power to help (or halt) the companys expansion in Asia. The companys political influence leveraging poses a serious threat to efforts to ratify/implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and to exclude tobacco from Asian free trade agreements, such as AFTA.