1902-2002: Veni, Vidi, Vici…ous, 100 Years of Marlboro
In this year 2002, Philip Morris rejoices on its official web-site as the corporation celebrates the 100th anniversary of its most emblematic brand to this day: Marlboro, "the most successful brand in the history of consumer marketing, more so even than Coca Cola, which has a higher awareness level but lower profitability"1 . Philip Morris does not hide the fact that Marlboro is the brand it lavishes the biggest budget upon, accounting "for the majority of PM sales and turnover outside the USA and an estimated 70% of international tobacco profits"2 . However, if Marlboro’s current monopoly seems well established, one should not forget that this success story suffered a long and painful start before the explosion of what is today referred to as the Marlboro Man. This astonishingly successful campaign even seems to have resisted if not overcome growing anti-tobacco campaigns due to health concerns and the increasing awareness of smoking-related diseases. As a matter of fact, despite all those obstacles (including advertising restrictions following the 1998 Tobacco Settlement Agreement), Marlboro can boast of not only maintaining its market but even increasing it as more than 3,000 youths start smoking every day3. What are, then, these advertising techniques used by Philip Morris to promote the Marlboro brand ? And what lies behind them so as to manage to make consumers forget or disregard the fact that what they are buying is a deadly product ?
I- From Marlborough Street to
Marlboro Country or how the Marlboro Man conquered the world.
Philip Morris established itself as a corporation in 1902 in New York and launched a string of British brands on the US market that very same year, including one of the earliest woman’s cigarette: Marlboro, named after the Marlborough Street location of the London factory. This prospective profitable market came a cropper as the red-tipped cigarette that camouflaged lipstick marks did not do especially well at the time. Philip Morris tried to re-introduce it in 1924. Again, the advertising was aimed at women and its slogan "Mild as May" conjured up images of stylish flappers, sophisticated jet-setters and glamorous women belonging to the social élite of the time. Yet it did not catch on with the public either.
In 1954, Marlboro advertising was taken over by the Chicago advertising agency Leo Burnett and the target demographic changed completely from women to men. A new slogan ran "Delivers the Goods on Flavour", and the design of the campaign featured Marlboro Men, namely various muscular athletes, toughened sailors and workers, to show that there was definitely nothing feminine about filter-tipped cigarettes and that real men smoked Marlboros. Shortly afterwards, it appeared that the Cow Boy was the most striking character of them all, the one that really appealed to consumers. The rugged Cow Boy was then combined and condensed with the former "tattooed men" campaign suggesting "a romantic past, a man who had once worked with his hands, who knew the score, who merited respect"4 and emerged as the Marlboro Man. People could identify with him and related to him as the spokesperson of their group / circle of "initiates".
At that point in time, the cow boy embodied all the major values of the American Dream like independence, freedom, escapism with the myth of the Frontier and the pioneer spirit. The ruggedness and toughness of the Marlboro Man emphasised his masculinity and authenticity, quickly establishing the brand as the cigarette of the he-man, as shown in the slogan "Where there’s a Man, there’s a Marlboro". Youths who identified strongly with the macho, independent image conveyed by the cow boy also related to the rebellious aspect of the landscape around him because of the call of the wild etc. The values conveyed by the Marlboro Man are well analysed in the report by BATCo:
"Appeal of the imagery - on the surface the cowboy and Marlboro country are simplistic, but underneath them lie a rich mixture of ideas, there is something for everybody, it has a variety of implicit promises according to who sees it:
- the cowboy is strong, serious and clever. As he never talks he has the added appeal of mystery. He can be both thoughtful (standing for the good guy with honest virtues) or he can be macho.
- although he comes across as a solitary figure, he is also sociable, sharing the campfire with his fellow workmen.
- the world of the cowboy is outdoor, clean and unspoilt, providing a great mood of relaxed smoking satisfaction.
- smoking a cigarette as a reward for completing a task and the sociability of smoking in a group are themes that the smoker can identify with.
- the use of rich colours (red, brown), flavours and aromas (the campfire, cooking and coffee), textures (leather) and dramatic landscapes is emotively appealing.
- the underlying themes of adventure, freedom, independence, being in charge of your destiny, open spaces and escapism for the urban dweller have proved appealing to several generations. They still have contemporary relevance; the cowboy is an icon of sturdy independence, the kind of person who chooses to smoke, a quiet defender of free choice"5.
It is to be noticed that the
start of the Marlboro Man campaign coincided with Hollywood’s trend for
western films which also played on that mythic past, representing an uncomplicated
period of American life, heavily emphasising the appeal of the Frontier.
"During the 50s and 60s the popularity of American cowboy films meant that
for most people the cowboy became the symbol of America and the American
Dream, cutting across barriers of sex, and social and cultural divisions…The
cowboy proved to be the ‘Big Idea’ achieving universal appeal"6 . Everyone,
including inhabitants from remote countries, could live the American dream
vicariously smoking Marlboros.
The growing universal dimension of the Marlboro Man is also seen through the vanishing gender barriers. Though the cowboy is first and foremost designed to emulate men, he is seducing enough to attract women as well. If in the 50s, ads relied on sex-appeal – featuring a woman’s coveting gaze towards the cowboy’s head while the focus was on his manly, tattooed, worker’s hand – women progressively took on the values conveyed for themselves. "This is because, underneath the cowboy clothes is an authentic man who possesses all the qualities both men and women desire… escape from pressures, stresses… [feeling] a sense of autonomy… control"7 but also showing adventure and excitement. That is why the timeless Marlboro Man became a "classic" hence the longevity of the campaign despite the changes that occurred in society and the environment. So successful it was that "even thirty years later, there are few competitor brands that can claim to have truly global campaigns"8 .
The Marlboro Man even survived the scandal caused by the revelations of smoking-related diseases by undergoing subtle changes over time. For instance, the BATCo report states that
"as smokers became more health conscious from the late 1970s, seeking lower tar/nicotine cigarettes, it was argued within the industry that Marlboro would never introduce a light or mild version, which was considered incompatible with its macho, rugged, 'come to the flavour' image. On the contrary, the Cowboy has worked remarkably well in the Lights and Ultra Lights line extensions by using subtle colour variations on existing advertising images (eg pastel wintry Marlboro country scenes and a white horse and an appropriate caption ‘The flavour and spirit of Marlboro in a light cigarette’."9.
Also, the focus shifted in
ads: from the cowboy ostensibly lighting up a cigarette in the 50s through
being a mere accessory to becoming virtually non-existent in modern ads.
Just as the cigarette lost prominence, so did the cigarette box: from large
packs pasted on the ad, they were gradually separated from the picture
and finally erased or used as a mere logo. The product became more and
more inconspicuous, to move away from the actual act of smoking and to
insist more on satisfaction and taste. This eventually led to the creation
of Marlboro Country.
PM and Leo Burnett resorted more to metaphors and allegories to reach another level of abstraction. Given the fact that, by the 70s, the cowboy had somehow become part of the
Establishment and everyone’s stock-in-trade, they believed that just putting the name of the brand on any given picture loosely related to the cowboy’s environment would be sufficient for people to relate and keep on associating Marlboro Country with the product sold. "Leo Burnett recently concocted ads that conjure up all the Western imagery of the Marlboro Man – without the man himself. One ad features a rugged cabin, while another shows a close up of a silver-plated lighter"10 . Internal memos from PM even show that the brand tried to "own" the chevron sign to be found on Marlboro packs as well as the red colour.
"The Colour Red - this has been used in some of Marlboro's advertising (eg. UK and Germany) where experiments have been made to replace the pack with the colour red (to comply with increasing advertising restrictions). In the UK, black and white images with a strategically placed dash of red colouring have been used. However, PM’s attempts to 'own' the colour red have so far had limited success and have not consistently superseded the more celebrated cowboy campaign"11.
Furthermore, the concept of Marlboro
Country and its welcoming slogan "Come to Where the Flavour is, Come to
Marlboro Country" emphasise the notion of sociability and gregariousness
of the cowboy, and through him of the smokers. As the "Tattooed-Man" campaign
had played on the dual aspect of the cowboy – both a loner and a member
of a community of rugged cowboys – Marlboro Country is a social dreamland
inviting every kind of people to join the happy Marlboro family. "There
is a sort of collective independence among those loyal to the brand. This
has been presented as either an implicit feature, as through the tattooed
men, or explicitly through cowboys working together in Marlboro Country,
sharing work and Marlboro cigarettes"12 .
Thanks to their concentration, commitment and consistency, the Marlboro Man and Marlboro Country campaigns did so well that by 1972, Marlboro had become the leading brand all over the world: "There are virtually no markets, excluding Australia (the brand was re-launched in September 1993), where Marlboro has failed"13 . Yet, PM was intelligent enough to know that, given the fierce competition from its rivals and the growing protests from anti-tobacco organisations, Marlboro should not rest on its laurels . It should constantly face a necessary repositioning on a fluctuating market (see RJ Reynolds’s introduction of Camel to attract young smokers):
"Advertising will create the perception that Camel smokers are non-conformist, self-confident and project a cool attitude which is admired by their peers... This approach will capitalize on the ubiquitous nature of Marlboro by repositioning it as the epitome of conformity, versus Camel the smoke of the cool/in-group"14 .
That is why, from the start, Marlboro has also relied on a variety of marketing and advertising techniques to create, maintain and find new markets.
II / Beyond the Marlboro Man:
Marlboro’s Marketing and Advertising Techniques.
To ensure its success, Marlboro has always sought to remain close to its potential consumers. Consequently, though we have seen that it is one of the few corporations to have global campaigns, the brand is flexible enough to adjust and adapt itself to specific cultures if the general cowboy image does not catch on with the public. Localising global ads is therefore a way to reinforce the consumer’s feeling of proximity with the brand. In South America or Australia where the cowboy is not endowed with the same larger-than-life, elevating values, Marlboro chose to associate itself with motor-sport and especially Formula 1 racing.
"Adaptations were made for local markets, such as Australia where the cowboy was seen as a labourer rather than a symbol of free spirit and open spaces. Instead Marlboro Country and a horseman, a ranch owner who is a successful business man with a ranch and a string of horses rather than a cowboy have proved more successful. In Argentina a sports oriented campaign has been used instead of the cowboy. In the UK, when restrictions forced the withdrawal of the cowboy from Marlboro adverts on the grounds that it depicted 'a hero of the young', PM continued to run the same copy with pictures of horses roaming the wide open spaces of Marlboro country, but more recently has experimented with surreal images, humour and the colour red"15 .
Whatever the emblem, the core values
are respected and the message is the same and the "Formula 1 driver is
thought to embody the same theme of the independent hero as the cowboy,
yet be more suitable to certain countries for a variety of cultural factors"16
Other evolutions show that Marlboro has always known how to roll with the times. History and the evolution of mentalities can account for the ceaseless variations in Marlboro’s marketing and advertising techniques. The major watershed occurred in the 1970s following the disclosure of scientific research, when consumers and people at large started to realise that smoking caused health problems, which finally led to the Surgeon General’s Warning on every pack of cigarettes sold and eventually the banning of TV and radio commercials in 1971. The change in consensus shows the resilience and capacity for adaptation of brands like Marlboro. Though the goal has remained (how to sell cigarettes), the strategies to achieve that goal have become sneakier and sneakier over time.
When Marlboro was re-released in 1954, advertising was close to propaganda. Ads celebrated the qualities attached to smoking, positioning it as a mechanism for weight-loss or boasted about the so-called curative virtues of tobacco:
"In the early ages of cigarette advertising, numerous ads appeared which featured doctors claiming that cigarettes were good for the digestion and to calm stress. People honestly believed that smoking cigarettes were, while maybe not good for you, at least would not have harmful effects. The cigarette industry was in what is now referred to as its 'Golden Age'."17 .
Smoking was glamorised through cinema
and Hollywood stars who smoked like troopers while embodying all the characteristics
appealing to youths – James Dean, the rebel without a cause – or men –
think of Humphrey Bogart’s ‘coolitude’.
Marlboro thought of diversifying its offer to keep consumers from switching brands if they ever grew tired of Marlboro Red. For example, "in a 1993 Philip Morris study, the researchers found ‘the change from Marlboro Red to another brand is mainly determined by the ‘boring’ image of Marlboro Red, and because of the negative characteristics that the out-switchers have experienced’"18 . Therefore appeared a whole string of derivative products (Menthol, 100s, Lights, Ultra Lights, Mild etc.), each of them designed to reach a specific target or surfing on fashionable ideas (think of the whole "light" consumer goods trend). For instance, PM executives report that, "although the data available is limited, Marlboro Menthol appears to be skewing male, extremely young, and White"19 .
The diversification of the offer also anticipated consumers’ concern over their health. Marlboro used to advertise its filtered cigarettes as being "safer" and commercialised new low tar and nicotine cigarettes to soothe smokers’ qualms during the "Tar War" in the 1970s, before realising that health-oriented ads only served to remind people of the danger of the product.
Another factor that helped Marlboro overcome the growing difficulties linked to the progressive restriction of advertising was the variety of the media used to convey the message. It is to be noticed that the Marlboro Man was little affected by the TV ban since 1971 as it continued to be displayed on massive billboards all over the world. Magazines, retailers’ shops and clubs were and still are used for Marlboro merchandising. Yet, little by little, the brand has sought to make itself less conspicuous on the surface level. The use of sports sponsorship or music events sponsoring enables the brand to get "airplay" in an indirect way so that , in the end, the two names are so closely associated that the brand becomes the race or the festival: children as young as 6 associate Marlboro with fast cars and excitement.
"As television, press and radio advertising bans have become more common place across the world, Marlboro has successfully shifted a larger proportion of its promotional effort to below the line activity. This has worked well because PM has retained the dominant above the line themes and images (made possible by their simplicity and versatility), thereby ensuring maximum leverage from communications integration. A good example is the Formula One sponsorship:
- The glamorous, upmarket image compliments Marlboro's premium product positioning, whilst at the same time reaching a wide audience around the world.
- It is synergistic with the cowboy; having the same themes of power, independence and freedom, but with the added benefit of having more contemporary relevance to the real world.
- The success of the McLaren motor racing team (the cowboy is the hero, Prost is a hero) has strengthened Marlboro's world beating image by giving the same message to the consumer.
- Through domination of Formula One from all aspects of the McLaren team to on-track advertising, Marlboro has maximised the impact of this sponsorship."20 .
Below the line promotion became
more and more useful and subtle as consumers became more and more aware
of the manipulation entailed by advertising techniques. What is known as
product placement flourished while censorship on the big screen grew. A
lot of firms deliberately chose to pay producers so that their brands appeared
in films. No need to say that blockbusters aimed at teenagers were and
are the most valuable and demanded "products". The UICC specifies the various
degrees of ostentation depending on the money given by the brands.
"Companies will pay simply for their brand name to be seen in focus on a billboard or passing truck. Better if there's a pack-shot (the actual pack is shown lying around in focus on the table, say). Better still, have a star actually light up from a clearly identifiable pack. Best of all (and hence costing the most money) is to have the star not only light up, but talk about the brand"21 .
It says that Marlboro features in
"Crocodile Dundee", "Children of a Lesser God", "Tin Men", "White Knights",
"Superman II" (Philip Morris paid £ 25,000 to have Marlboro featured.
In the film - but not in the comic book, where strict controls have operated
for many years - Lois Lane is depicted as a smoker), "Baby", "Crimes of
the Heart" (Jessica Lange chain-smokes Marlboro Lights), "Risky Business".
Firms like Marlboro can actually even rely on scriptwriters’ zeal to promote smoking whether they are being paid for this or not. For example, Joe Eszterhas, now a cancer-ridden, repenting scriptwriter, explains how he "relentlessly used his power as a movie scriptwriter to glamorise and hype smoking":
"In Joe's movies, all the cool sexy types fag it up non-stop. Fans who aren't just freeze-framing the action to check out whether Sharon Stone was or wasn't wearing any knickers, will be aware that smoking is a powerful part of the sexual subtext in "Basic Instinct". Stone's character is horny as hell, sexually uninhibited (weh heh!), with a lesbian lover (fruity!) and smokes like a trooper; Michael Douglas is the hard-bitten cop on her tail - and he's trying to quit. She seduces him, as Joe says in his article, "with literal and figurative smoke that she blows into his face". In the wake of the movie, one manufacturer launched a cigarette called Basic [the manufacturer being PM my comment]. Joe comments "My movie made a lot of money; so did their new cigarette". The link couldn't be more blatant"22 .
The different products related to
Marlboro can also serve as a network around the original cigarette brand.
The line extension like clothes, namely "Marlboro Classics", always refers
to the values and style associated with the cowboy imagery, thus making
sure that consumers – even non-smokers – still connect the product explicitly
displayed on the ads (clothes) with cigarettes: "the use of Trade Mark
Diversification through the Marlboro ‘Classics’ clothes shops strengthens
the brand message and has proved particularly important in those countries
where above the line activity is not allowed"23 .
Research has shown that Marlboro could even resort to semi subliminal imagery using a series of ads featuring phallic symbols (obviously connoting Marlboro Men with power or prowess) or instilling a stressful climate of fear and oppression which should be relieved by the fact of smoking24 .
Therefore, it is obvious that sneaky ways of promoting a brand are at the core of any corporation since advertising is inherently a manipulative process to induce people to consume the product in question. However, these devices are all the more sickening as in Marlboro’s case, the ultimate goal is always to fool people into buying a deadly product:
"No advertising is more deceptive than that used to sell cigarettes. Images of independence are used to sell a product that creates profound dependence. Images of health and vitality are used to sell a product that causes disease and suffering. Images of life are used to sell a product that causes death"25 .
III – From Myth to Reality: Marlboro’s
It is interesting to study the language used on the official web-site of PM-USA to promote Marlboro. What is striking is the wish for total transparency and the real act of faith that are being presented to the occasional browser: "our mission", it says is to "communicate openly, honestly and effectively about the health effects of our products". Their "values" are strongly hammered home through the following anaphoric device:
"We believe in operating with integrity, trust and respect, both as individuals and as a company.
We demonstrate a passion to succeed in every aspect of our business.
We believe in executing with quality, by understanding and responding to our adult consumers' preferences.
We believe in driving creativity into everything we do, resulting in innovation and continuous improvement for our adult consumers and our business processes.
We believe in sharing with others, unleashing the tremendous resources of our people as a force for good into the communities in which we live and work"26.
Finally their conclusion is eloquent
"We plan collaboratively to ensure consistent and achievable goals. We execute by saying what we will do, doing what we say, and documenting the results. We establish clear accountabilities and strive to produce superior results for our shareholder"27 .
Everything is carefully built and
planned to make the brand look good but a short analysis of the speech
and a quick comparison between PM’s words and deeds soon reveal that the
whole argumentation does not hold much water. Once again, manipulation
and perversion are at the core of PM’s official advertising channel.
The hypocrisy as regards health issues is confounding. As Sheila A. Huddleston, appellate lawyer at Shipman & Goodwin LLP, wrote in her article, Marlboro tries to "disarm through candour" by tackling all the problems usually playing against them.
"The ad exemplifies basic principles that are taught in any first-year legal writing class: Deal with the facts against you. Know your audience. Credibility is critical… As for dealing with the facts against you: An ad that chooses "Reduced carcinogens" as its slogan is surely putting its worst foot forward -- attempting to disarm through candor… And that's the last advocacy lesson I derived from this ad. An advocate's reputation for truthfulness is his or her most important asset. Once lost, no amount of clever marketing can take its place"28 .
A number of links are given for people
who wish to consult the results of various scientific researches and PM
argues that the best way to stop damaging your health is to quit smoking.
Long pages are devoted to the making of Marlboro and other cigarettes –
all stressing the quality of the product sold – and it is also clearly
specified that lower tar and nicotine levels do not mean "safer" cigarettes.
Therefore people should not be misled by the various categories of cigarettes
as tests are carried out by machines and therefore sometimes inaccurate.
"Understanding Tar & Nicotine Numbers: What They Mean and What They Don't Mean
Using the tar numbers as a reference point, we describe some of our brands with terms such as "lights," "ultra-lights," "medium" and "mild." However, these brand descriptors, like the reported numbers themselves, have never indicated precisely how much tar or nicotine a particular smoker will inhale at any given time. Although we believe that descriptors serve as useful points of comparison for cigarette brands regarding characteristics such as strength of taste and reported tar yields, we do not imply in our marketing, and smokers should not assume, that "lights," "ultra-lights," "medium," and "mild" brands are "safe" or "safer" than full-flavor brands.
A smoker should not assume that brand descriptors such as "light" or "ultra light" indicate with precision either the actual amount of tar and nicotine inhaled from any particular cigarette or the relative amount as compared to competing cigarette brands. Some researchers report that smokers of "light" cigarettes inhale as much tar and nicotine as from full-flavor brands.
Philip Morris U.S.A. does not imply in its marketing, and smokers should not assume, that lower-yielding brands are "safe" or "safer" than full-flavor brands.
Because smokers have varying preferences, Philip Morris U.S.A. offers products with differing yields of tar and nicotine, as measured by machine methods. We believe that it is appropriate to continue to differentiate our brands on this basis and that descriptors such as "lights," "ultra-lights," "medium" and "mild" help communicate these differences to adult smokers"29 .
Everything would be fine if the brand
did not deliberately toy with the blurring of the labels to confuse consumers
and did not wish to make them forget that low tar levels were the great
arguments to sell more "healthy cigarettes" in the 1970s when the first
health concerns cropped up.
Marlboro / PM lament on the seriousness of smoking-related diseases but they obliterate the fact that, as long as they could, they ignored the two Marlboro Men’s fate who eventually died of lung cancer in the 1990s:
"1992 Dying of lung cancer, ‘Marlboro Man’ Wayne McLaren appears at Philip Morris’ annual shareholders meeting in Richmond, Virginia, and asks the company to voluntarily limit its advertising. Chairman Michael Miles responds, "We're certainly sorry to hear about your medical problem. Without knowing your medical history, I don't think I can comment any further." The Marlboro Man died of lung cancer three months later.
1995 Marlboro cowboy, David McLean, dies of lung cancer at 73"30 .
Marlboro / PM also offers its
comments on the 1998 Masters Settlement Agreement, giving a blow by blow
account of all the restrictions entailed by the law, and claims it respects
it scrupulously. It almost looks like PM demanded it as it is so willing
to go "further", "beyond", "voluntarily exceed" the law, blurring charitable
donation and legal injunction.
"In every case, we strictly comply with the settlement agreement. In many cases, our marketing standards go beyond what the settlement agreement requires. We believe that going over and above what's required by the tobacco settlement agreement is an essential component of being a responsible marketer of tobacco products"31.
Furthermore, the agreement is presented as partnership between the signatory states and US major tobacco companies, which incidentally raises the question as to who rules the country: politicians or businessmen ? This is all the more cynical as PM says it supports "reasonable regulation" but how can anyone believe in the real implementation of a law that has been enacted conjointly with the very people it is supposed to target ? Does not it mean that PM executives have already prepared an alternative to circumvent the law ?
"The signing of the Master Settlement
Agreement on November 23, 1998 is an important marker for the changing
trends of tobacco consumption as well as a milestone for the Anti-Tobacco
movement. But really how effective is the Master Settlement Agreement?
Is this country finally winning the war against an industry that profits
from a lethal addiction, or does the MSA represent another realm in which
the Tobacco Industry has displayed its persuasive and manipulative powers?
One of the major aims of the MSA was to decrease the amount of advertising focused on Youth , by limiting Media outlets and funding Prevention, Education and Cessation programs. Since then, all Tobacco Industry funds that had once been focused on areas in which they are now prohibited, have not been subtracted from their budget for advertising, but rather, diverted towards other forms of advertising. Philip Morris has increased ad spending in magazines nearly $30 million in response to the MSA"32.
The irony about the implementation
of that law also lies in the fact that it derives from a series of lawsuits
that PM had to face in the 1990s. As long as they could, Marlboro lawyers
denied that PM knew anything about smokers’ health problems and tried to
delay the passing of the bill until the end. In an article dating back
to 1988, the author explains: "during the next Congress, legislators will
be asked to pass a law that would forbid all cigarette advertising in magazines
and newspapers. The tobacco industry and its advertisers have attacked
the proposal as violating fundamental moral rights"33 . These people had
to be defeated in Court to finally acknowledge that regulations were indeed
needed (think of the real pictures of the seven biggest tobacco executives
swearing before Congress that they did not know about nicotine addiction
in the film The Insider by Michael Mann) when their position became
untenable in the late 1990s. Yet, internal memos from Marlboro prove that
PM private researchers knew about the addictive power of nicotine as early
"Smoking a cigarette for the beginner is a symbolic act... ‘I am no longer my mother’s child,’ ‘I’m tough,’ ‘I am an adventurer,’ ‘I’m not a square’... As the force from the psychological symbolism subsides, the pharmacological effect takes over to sustain the habit..."34
The act of smoking is symbolic, it signifies adulthood, he smokes to enhance his image in the eyes of his peers. But the psycho-social motive is not enough to explain continued smoking"35.
However, PM waited until at least
1998 to state that it "believed" in smoking-related problems.
"Philip Morris U.S.A. believes that the conclusions of public health officials concerning environmental tobacco smoke are sufficient to warrant measures that regulate smoking in public places. We also believe that where smoking is permitted, the government should require the posting of warning notices that communicate public health officials' conclusions that secondhand smoke causes disease in non-smokers.
We agree with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious diseases in smokers. Smokers are far more likely to develop serious diseases, like lung cancer, than non-smokers. There is no "safe" cigarette.
We support a single, consistent public health message on the role played by cigarette smoking in the development of disease in smokers, as well as smoking and addiction. This includes our support of the law that requires cigarette manufacturers to place health warnings on packages and in advertisements and our belief that governments and public health officials should determine the content of the warning messages.
We agree with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking is addictive. It can be very difficult to quit smoking, but this should not deter smokers who want to quit from trying to do so"36.
So, as the saying goes and contrary to what PM seems to imply, Rome was not built in a day !
Marlboro / PM claims they support the advertising restrictions yet we could give the example of motor-sport to illustrate how they try to subvert them. Every year, FIA Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone representing all the lobbies and corporations sponsoring the Formula 1 championship try to blackmail the French government into loosening the famous "loi Evin" passed in 1991 – a very strict law forbidding any type of cigarette and alcohol ads on TV etc. – by threatening to jettison the French Grand Prix if they are not allowed to advertise the sponsors’ products.
Marlboro is so concerned with health problems that they allegedly do not target children – at least not those protected by local legislation in Western countries.
"Beyond the requirements of the tobacco settlement agreement, PM USA also believes that we have an important role to play in helping to prevent youth smoking. As the manufacturer of a product intended for adults that has serious health effects, we have a responsibility to help prevent kids from smoking"37.
Where legislation is slacker as in
Russia or in new opening markets like China, children are encouraged to
smoke and ads are encroaching on every bit of free space, as in Naomi Klein’s
No Logo’s worst nightmare.
"Western tobacco companies under assault from regulators and public opinion back home have found a promised land in Russia, where very little stands in their way… According to industry analysts, Western companies have plowed more than half a billion dollars into Russia, retooling old Soviet factories and repackaging old Soviet cigarette brands. They also advertise heavily, using familiar American symbols such as billboards with the Marlboro Man"38.
"PM aims with Marlboro to dominate advertising where it can in the urban areas of the countries in which it is present, giving it maximum impact. A recent example is the city of Shanghai where billboards, phone booths covered with red and white logos and sponsorship of a local daily radio programme ensure that Marlboro cannot be ignored"39.
Therefore it seems that Marlboro’s
policy is a two-tiered system. There are as many speeches as there are
types of legislation. Of course, Marlboro pretends not to target young
smokers while everyone knows that a corporation has to create new markets
recruiting new smokers.
"And young people are, in fact, the target of the tobacco industry's advertising campaigns. To maintain sales, the tobacco industry must recruit more than 2 million people every year to replace those who die and those who quit smoking. Since 90% of beginning smokers are children or teenagers, this means that the industry must entice at least 5000 youngsters daily to take up smoking"40.
Internal memos show that Marlboro is very well aware of its appeal to youths, the brand teenagers get hooked on, thus becoming life-long faithful Marlboro smokers. It rejoices at its success and is always on the lookout for new opportunities.
"I have just received data on the graduating class of 1982 and the results are much more encouraging and corroborate the Roper data [a survey that tracked smoking trends]... These data show that smoking prevalence among these 18 year old high school seniors has increased from 1981 to 1982"41.
"Marlboro’s phenomenal growth rate in the past has been attributable in large part to our high market penetration among young smokers [15-19 years-old]... [M]y own data, which includes younger teenagers, shows even higher Marlboro market penetration among 15-17 year-olds… The teenage years are also important because those are the years during which most smokers begin to smoke, the years in which initial brand selections are made, and the period of the life-cycle in which conformity to peer-group norms is greatest"42.
"Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens... The smoking patterns of teenagers are particularly important to Philip Morris... the share index is highest in the youngest group for all Marlboro and Virginia Slims packings... At least a part of the success of Marlboro Red during its most rapid growth period was because it became the brand of choice among teenagers who then stuck with it as they grew older..."43.
PM has even carried out polls to
get better insight into teenagers’ smoking habits in the 1980s while they
now heavily insist on their $100 million budget to finance anti-smoking
programs which are as ambiguous as their speech. As a matter of fact, the
message conveyed is as deceitful and conniving as to unconsciously drive
kids to smoke while pretending the opposite: the bottom-line being that
if you are not an adult, do not smoke. What better way to manipulate an
adolescent into smoking to prove to his peers that he is a grown-up ? Anyway
the conspicuous brand appearing on every "anti-ad" could just be dismissed
as another form of PR for Marlboro / PM in order to buy respectability
and prop up the company’s battered public image. "If Philip Morris was
serious about curbing youth smoking, they would quit using the Marlboro
man, which is the most popular and most recognised cigarette icon. Most
of the kids who smoke smoke Marlboro"44 .
However, the ultimate stage in this hypocritical process is definitely the emphasis laid on consumers’ pseudo choice of smoking according to PM. The references to consenting, "responsible adult smokers" on the official web-site are innumerable. Yet isn’t the freedom of choice pitted against the indoctrination and brainwashing going on since the day we were born ?
"A cigarette in the hands of a Hollywood star on-screen is a gun aimed at a 12 or 14-year-old. The gun will go off when that kid is an adult. We in Hollywood know that the gun will go off, yet we hide behind a smoke screen of phrases like "creative freedom" and "artistic expression". Those lofty words are lies designed, at best, to obscure laziness. I know. I have told those lies. The truth is that there are 1,000 better and more original ways to reveal a character's personality"45.
The power of ads over immature audiences
– what Ignacio Ramonet calls the "silent propaganda" in his eponymous book
– has been demonstrated. Marlboro lets people think they can choose whereas
its advertising agency does whatever it can think of to prevent them
from doing so:
"Americans and others can forget about freedom of choice where tobacco companies are concerned. As this and many other cigarette ads on this site, indicate, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies will use any technique they can in attempts to 'brainwash' individuals they cannot influence by any other means. That probably means you"46.
PM even goes as far as to present
itself as the defender of civil and moral rights, fighting for freedom,
resisting against an ever more restrictive society (composed of "anti-smoking-campaigners-are-hysterical-freedom-hating-fascists"47
), and a government interfering in the personal choices of the people.
Isn’t it ironic to see one of the biggest corporations on Earth try to
side with the underground "minorities" supposedly threatened by totalitarian
regimes who want to deprive them of the power to kill themselves by inches
Therefore we can see that Marlboro
has always known how to move along with society whether by anticipating
change or being the cause of it. After conquering the world through the
Marlboro Man campaigns, Marlboro has always been keen on applying various
advertising, marketing and lobbying techniques to stay at the top. And
the success story is far from being over despite the fact that calls for
regulation are growing in western cultures:
"So how badly has Philip Morris been hit by this trend of anti-cigarette hysteria ? Despite the incessant whining by the company's executives , Philip Morris continues to thrive in the business world, reporting increasing profits every year. Philip Morris is no more likely to declare bankruptcy due to this matter than the average human being is likely to die from blood loss after a mosquito bite… The tobacco companies have made significant campaign contributions to more than half of the Congressional representatives. Philip Morris alone is one of the top 10 contributors to the GOP , and the company also donated large sums directly to George W. Bush 's presidential campaign"48 .
Furthermore, a bright future still
lies spread before Marlboro, selling dreams to all the new potential markets
around the world, like developing countries or former communist regimes
that are gradually joining the "global market". "Sadly, I suspect that
despite the current clampdown, the tobacco multinationals will find new
ways to promote their gear, both over here through the arts, the media
and the movies, and in whatever third world country can be (easily) persuaded
to buy into "first world sophistication" by puffing through a packet of
Klein, Naomi. No Logo. Paris: Actes Sud, 2001.
Ramonet, Ignacio. Propagandes silencieuses: Masses, télévision, cinéma. Paris: Galilée, 2000.
1-BATCo Marketing Intelligence Department, "How Marlboro Led the Pack", taken from internet site http://www.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco/batco/html/100/177/, December 18, 2002.
3-Hammer, Sarah. "Cigarette Advertising and its Effect on Children", taken from internet site http://www.courses.rochester.edu/foster/ANT226/spring01/index.html, December 18, 2002.
4-Sharif, Shumon, "The Marlboro Timelines", taken from internet site http://www.courses.rochester.edu/foster/ANT226/spring01/index.html, December 18, 2002.
7-Jaffe, Jessica, "The Imagery, Fantasy and Symbolism of the Marlboro Man", taken from internet site http://www.courses.rochester.edu/foster/ANT226/spring01/index.html, December 18, 2002.
10-Ono, Yumiko, "Advertising Firms Envision New Ways to Sell Cigarettes", taken from internet site http://www.at.pair.com/wsj2.html or http://www.lifesign.com/wsj2.html, December 18, 2002.
12-Vasiliauskas, Julia, "The Social Image of Marlboro", taken from internet site http://www.courses.rochester.edu/foster/ANT226/spring01/index.html, December 18, 2002.
14-"Camel New Advertising Campaign Development"— RJ Reynolds, Memorandum from RT Caufield to DN Iauco, March 12, 1986 (Mangini Trial Exhibit 58), taken from internet site http://www.state.ma.us/dph/mtcp/report.osrep.htm, December 18, 2002.
16-Hotra, Katie, "Marlboro/Coke: Localising Global Marketing Campaigns", taken from internet site http://www.courses.rochester.edu/foster/ANT226/spring01/index.html, December 18, 2002.
17-Harper, Eric / Nasta, Alexa, "Safer Cigarettes ?: Cigarette and Anti-Smoking Industries’ Response to Smoking Health Claims", taken from internet site http://www.courses.rochester.edu/foster/ANT226/spring01/index.html, December 18, 2002.
18-"The Seduction of American Youth", taken from internet site http://www.tobaccofreedom.org/issues/documents/advertising/, December 18, 2002.
19-"The Seduction of American Youth", (op.cit.).
21-Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), UK, "UICC Tobacco Control Fact Sheet 1", taken from internet site http://www.globalink.org/tobacco/fact_sheets/01fact.htm, December 18, 2002.
22-Borkowski, Mark, "Smoking Gun", taken from internet site http://media.guardian.co.uk/columnists/story/0,7550,778388,00.html, December 18, 2002.
24-Further information and thematic analyses on "http://www.subliminalworld.com/mastman1.htm", December 18, 2002.
25-Andre, Claire / Velasquez, Manuel, "The Morality of Marketing the Marlboro Man", taken from internet site http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v1n4/marlboro.html, December, 18, 2002.
26-http://www.philipmorrisusa.com, December 18, 2002.
28-Huddleston, Sheila A., "Advertising your Skills", taken from internet site http://www.shipman-goodwin.com/news_story.php?aid=107, December 18, 2002.
29-http://www.philipmorrisusa.com, December 18, 2002.
30-Sharif, Shumon, (op.cit.).
31-http://www.philipmorrisusa.com, December 18, 2002.
32-Ihmann, Lyle, "The Tobacco Industry vs Anti-Tobacco Movement and its Effects on Tobacco Consumption", taken from internet site http://www.courses.rochester.edu/foster/ANT226/spring01/index.html, December 18, 2002.
33-Andre, Claire / Velasquez, Manuel, (op.cit.).
34-"Why One Smokes"—Philip Morris, Draft Report, Fall/1969 (Minnesota Trial Exhibit 3681), taken from internet site from internet site http://www.state.ma.us/dph/mtcp/report.osrep.htm, December 18, 2002.
35-"Smoker Psychology Research"— Philip Morris, Memorandum by M Wakeham, November 26, 1969 (Minnesota Trial Exhibit 10299), taken from internet site http://www.state.ma.us/dph/mtcp/report.osrep.htm, December 18, 2002.
36-http://www.philipmorrisusa.com, December 18, 2002.
37-http://www.philipmorrisusa.com, December 18, 2002.
38-Harrigan, Steve, "Marlboro Man Rides into Russia", taken from internet site http://www.cnn.com/world/9707/13/russia.tobacco/, December 18, 2002.
40-Andre, Claire / Velasquez, Manuel, (op.cit.).
41-"Still More Trends in Cigarette Smoking Prevalence"— Philip Morris, Memorandum by Myron Johnston, February 18, 1983 (Minnesota Trial Exhibit 10525), taken from internet site http://www.state.ma.us/dph/mtcp/report.osrep.htm, December 18, 2002.
42-"The Decline in the Rate of Growth of Marlboro Red"— Philip Morris, Correspondence from Myron Johnston
to Dr. R. B. Seligman, May 21, 1975 (Minnesota Trial Exhibit 2557), taken from internet site http://www.state.ma.us/dph/mtcp/report.osrep.htm, December 18, 2002.
43-"Young Smokers: Prevalence, Trends, Implications, and Related Demographic Trends"— Philip Morris,
Report by Myron Johnston, March 31, 1981 (Minnesota Trial Exhibit 10339), taken from internet site http://www.state.ma.us/dph/mtcp/report.osrep.htm, December 18, 2002.
44-CNN, Report : "Philip Morris Polled Teens on Smoking", taken from internet site http://www.cnn.com/health/9612/15/youth.smoking/, December 18, 2002.
45-Borkowski, Mark, (op.cit.).
46-http://www.subliminalworld.com/mastman1.htm, December 18, 2002.
47-Borkowski, Mark, (op.cit.).
48-http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?lastnode_id=760363&node_id=494162, December 18, 2002.
49-Borkowski, Mark, (op.cit.).