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Small History of Organizations Marlboro

How Marlboro Brand changed its sex?

Marlboro is a brand of cigarette famous for its flavor, billboard

advertisements and magazine advertisements of the Marlboro Man.
By 1992, Financial World ranked Marlboro the world's No. 1 most
valuable brand, with a market worth of $32 billion. In 2001 it was
the most popular cigarette brand in the U.S.

Marlboro smoker, now personified by the rugged

cowboys who puff on cigarettes was once meant for
woman. Marlboro Brand was born in 1924 as one of the first
women's cigarettes. During that time, the idea of marketing
cigarettes to women was a taboo. Advertisers had to
address the issue of stained teeth, foul breath, and
addictive cravings, not to mention that dry, heaving
morning cough. Philip Morris decided that their brand
needed to have a classy, sophisticated name. Winston
Churchill was in the news at the time, and it was being
reported that he was related to the Earl of Marlborough.
Philip Morris marketers liked the sound of the Marlborough
name, but didn't think it looked good on the pack. They
lopped off the "ugh" and came up with Marlboro. In the
1920s, the Marlboro campaign was based on how the
cigarette was different. They painted a red band around the
Prepared for classroom discussion for students of MBA by Prof.K.Prabhakar, Director, KSR College
of Technology, Tiruchengodu-637209
filter to hide those unattractive lipstick stains, calling them
"Beauty Tips to Keep the Paper from Your Lips." They
called Marlboro the "Mild as May" cigarette for women and
added a tag line -"Discerning feminine taste is now
confirming the judgment of masculine connoisseurs in
expressing unanimous preference for the Aristocrat of
Cigarettes. . . ." The brand had a small share to survive.
After Two decades, Philip Morris decided to "reposition"
the brand due to low volume of sales.

In the early 1950s, scientists published a major, well-

publicized study linking smoking to lung cancer. This
publication had a great publicity impact. In 1953, for the
first time, cigarette consumption slowed in the United
States. During the same era Reader's Digest magazine
published a series of articles that linked smoking with lung

The cigarette companies moved fast. They pursued an

offensive strategy: claiming that the studies were
"inconclusive" on cigarette safety while implying that their
brands were "safer" than those other, more dangerous,
brands. The brands that were lost their market share were
nonfilter brands.
Small History of Organizations Marlboro

Filter cigarettes were perceived by smokers as safer, but

up to that point of time filter cigarettes had been marketed
to only women. Many men now wanted a filtered brand,
thinking that it will be safer, but were afraid they were
afraid that smoking women’ brand in public will show them
in poor light, if they switched to a woman’s brand.

Cigarette manufacturers are not in favour of filter

cigarettes to men, as it may perceived to reinforce the
image that cigarettes induce the bad effects of cigarettes,
filters implied that smoke was unpleasant or dangerous.

However, they are driven by profits. Filtered cigarettes

were more profitable because the filter material was
cheaper than a comparable amount of tobacco. Besides,
filters screened out some of the smoke's harshness, which
meant they could get by with a cheaper grade of tobacco.

Philip Morris decided to give Marlboro repositioning. The

company hired Chicago advertising executive Leo Burnett to
design the strategy. Burnett created advertising characters

Prepared for classroom discussion for students of MBA by Prof.K.Prabhakar, Director, KSR College
of Technology, Tiruchengodu-637209
like the Jolly Green Giant, the Keebler Elves, and the lonely
Maytag Repairman, Charlie the Tuna, Poppin' Fresh, and
Morris the Cat. When he thought about repositioning
Marlboros, he decided to use a series of the manliest
images he could think of. He intended to present a series of
ship captains, weight lifters, adventurers, war
correspondents, construction workers, Marines, and the like.
The cowboy was his first image of the series. Philip Morris
had his reservations. It hired a research company. The
research agency reported that there were only three
thousand cowboys in the entire United States at that time.
The research report said the men in town will not identify
with cowboys. Burnett convinced the company to try the
cowboy image. The campaign worked. In one year, Marlboro
brand share increased from marginal presence, to the
fourth bestselling brand.

Burnett's first set of cowboys were professional models,

some of whom had never been on a horse before. That led
Small History of Organizations Marlboro
to a series of embarrassing problems. For example, an early
advertisement showed a cowboy's legs in close-up: His blue
jeans were well-worn, his hand-tooled boots were scuffed in
all the right places, but his spurs were upside-down. After
that, the agency started recruiting real cowboys from places
like Texas and Montana for their ads.
In 1955, the agency added a trademark tattoo to their
cow boy's hand. One model observed after a photo shoot
that they had spent three minutes making up his face-and
three hours painting the tattoo. In 1962, Burnett's agency
bought the rights to The Magnificent Seven theme and
added words to it for their TV ads ("Come to where the
flavor is . . . Come to Marlboro Country").
Since then, the Marlboro Man has been among the most
successful campaigns ever, keeping the cigarette at or near
the top of mind recall for years. When cigarette ads were
banned in 1971, the cowboy made a smooth transition to
print and billboards since he never said anything anyway.
He continued squinting off into the distance with that self-
absorbed expression. Everyone seems to love the cowboy.

Prepared for classroom discussion for students of MBA by Prof.K.Prabhakar, Director, KSR College
of Technology, Tiruchengodu-637209
In France, Philip Morris sued an antismoking group that
used a cowboy model to deliver an antismoking message,
claiming trademark infringement. Philip Morris won a small
victory-a judgment of 1 franc instead of the $3 million he
asked for, However the advertisements were off the print.

The real cowboy models, meanwhile, have periodically

embarrassed the company by dying from smoking-related
diseases like lung cancer, emphysema, and strokes.

David McLean, who appeared in many Marlboro television

and print advertisements starting in the early 1960s, also
died of cancer at age 73 on 12 October 1995. McLean
starred in the short-lived 1960 television Western Tate, and
he played roles in numerous television series and feature
films during the 1960s and 1970s. McLean took up smoking
at age 12, began to suffer from emphysema in 1985, and
had a cancerous tumor removed from his right lung in 1993.
Despite the surgery, the cancer remained and spread to his
brain and spine, and McLean succumbed in 1995. In August
1996 McLean's widow and son filed a wrongful death lawsuit
against Philip Morris, Inc., claiming that McLean was unable
Small History of Organizations Marlboro
to stop smoking because of his nicotine addiction, and that
his smoking habit was the cause of his lung cancer.

The lawsuit contended, among other issues, that

McLean had been obligated to smoke up to five packs per
take in order to get the right look while posing for
advertisements, and that he received cartons of Marlboro
cigarettes as gifts from Philip Morris. At last report (in 1999)
the lawsuit was still pending, having outlasted all attempts
by defendant Philip Morris to have it dismissed.

The small history brings out some important issues relating

to management.
1) Marketing
i) Study the advertisement and posture of the cowboy.
What kind of imagery you find in the ad? What he tries to
communicate? He looks not into your eyes but into distant
ii) How “cognitive dissonance”, is managed in this case
when Reader’s Digest articles appeared in the news
regarding carcinogenic character of cigarette smoking?
ii) If you consider the image of Marlboro what kind of

Prepared for classroom discussion for students of MBA by Prof.K.Prabhakar, Director, KSR College
of Technology, Tiruchengodu-637209
characteristics the brand has? Male or female, what
physical characteristics?
2) Ethical Issues: Is it right to mislead people to believe
that smoking provides MACHO Image for men? Please see
the advertisement given in the reference. Children asking
their parents to smoke the brand . Is it ethical?
3) The brand value is 32 billion $ built on misery of
thousands of people- do you agree?

Please go to the links to have a good understanding of
the case.
Small History of Organizations Marlboro

Prepared for classroom discussion for students of MBA by Prof.K.Prabhakar, Director, KSR College
of Technology, Tiruchengodu-637209

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