John Oliver of “Last Week Tonight” did a follow-up story on his show’s creation of “Jeff the Diseased Lung.”
Jeff the Diseased Lung is a trademark designed by Oliver and his show for the tobacco industry which is fighting efforts in smaller countries around the world to limit tobacco industry advertising and branding. Oliver’s show took out billboards in Uruguay and sent out t-shirts to Togo starring Jeff the Diseased lung.
Since, then, Jeff and the Twitter hastag #jeffwecan have taken off far beyond what Oliver expected. Also, there are a number of YouTube videos made by Jeff the Diseased Lung fans. Here’s one, here’s two, here’s a third. The first two are great, but that third one was … WTH?
Someone even made their own Jeff the Diseased Lung costume in Mexico City.
Oliver’s epic rant against the tobacco industry, more than 18 minutes long, savaged Big Tobacco over its efforts to harass and intimidate smaller countries that are trying to control tobacco advertising. Australia is one country that now requires simple plain packaging on tobacco products, along with graphic warnings.
As Oliver points out in last week’s piece, Ireland is another country that has joined Australia in requiring plain packaging. Hey, I wrote about that weeks ago, I beat John to the punch. He finds an incredible argument in Philip Morris’ lawsuit against Ireland: Philip Morris argued that, “a dance is only meaningful when it is danced, as a trademark is only meaningful when used.”
As Oliver retorts: “You know you have a pretty weak legal argument when it sounds like a rejected @#$%ing Jewel lyric.”