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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Man Says Marketing Firm Promoting Menthol Ciggies Canned Him Because He's White

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 11:31 AM

The firm told Hogan STL didn't have a market for any more of these. - IMAGE VIA
  • Image via
  • The firm told Hogan STL didn't have a market for any more of these.
The second sentence of Daniel P. Hogan's federal complaint reads, "Plaintiff is a white male." Not usually the basis for complaining.

But Hogan's lawsuit, which just got transferred into Missouri's Eastern federal district yesterday, alleges that it wasn't ineptitude that got him fired from a marketing outfit pushing menthol smokes at St. Louis-area bars. Rather, he claims, they wanted to hire Blacks and Hispanics instead.

(Regardless of your politics, this might make some sense from a business perspective, if you think salesmen can more easily sell stuff to people who are like them. Menthols are overwhelmingly the cigarette of choice among African-American smokers, but not so with whites; just check the recent story in The New York Times).

According to the lawsuit, Hogan worked for the St. Louis office of Cosmic Concepts (a.k.a. Media Star Promotions, based in Maryland) for two years as a program manager.  One of his duties was to hit the bar/club circuit shilling for certain brands of ciggies.

Hogan claims that in April of last year, somebody from corporate let him go, stating that a major client, RJ Reynolds (which makes Camels, Pall Malls, Dorals, Kools, Winstons and Salems), no longer believed that St. Louis was "a viable market for more menthol" smokes.

But then, he saw an craigslist ad posted by the company that made him question the official reasoning:Cosmic Concepts craigslist ad

It doesn't explicitly require candidates be Black or Hispanic. It does ask for a photo, although that might have to do with the "attractive" requirement. 

In any case, Hogan voiced his displeasure to the Missouri Ethics Commission, writing, "They have replaced all employees with African-Americans or other minorities. I believe I was discharged due to my race, Caucasian."

Attorneys from both sides have declined comment.

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