Across Man’. First introduced in 1954, the Marlboro

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Across Man’. First introduced in 1954, the Marlboro

Across the globe one
of the biggest challenges in advertising is to be innovative and creative,
especially if one is marketing a way of living. Lifestyle marketing was neither
common nor widely used before Phillip Morris used it to introduce the ‘Marlboro
Man’. As initial target market was women, Marlboro cigarettes used to have a
red band at the end of the cigarettes to hide the lipstick marks. It turned out
to be a successful marketing strategy for Phillip Morris, showing women as
classy and wealthy with the tag line “mild as may”, but it was only until the
report was released in the U.S during 1950 which showed 40% of Americans
agreeing to the idea that cigarettes are an increasing cause of lung cancer (Gallup Poll).
This report was the birth of ‘Marlboro Man’. First introduced in 1954, the
Marlboro man had a direct impact on sales, within a year Marlboro’s market
share was in the top 4. By 1972 Marlboro was the top selling cigarette brand in
the world and it still holds that position.

Phillip Morris had the perfect product for their
initial target market i.e. women but after the report Phillip Morris had to go
through immense rebranding for their product named ‘Marlboro’. It was not
considered classy for women anymore so they had to change either the product or
the perception of the consumer. Phillip Morris was under immense fire and they
needed to get out of it fast without losing its consumers. They hired Leo
Burnett, an advertising master, founder of Leo Burnett Company, Inc. Burnett
didn’t only use the rough and tough images of cowboys, over the decade, he also
used various professions like rugged guys with tattoos, ball players and race
car drivers (mainly focused on F1 drivers). Leo knew that Marlboro has been a
product for women and this had to be changed by a design revamp of the product and
packaging. The first print ads were subtle with a strong message, “come to
where the flavour is” or “the filter doesn’t get between you and the flavour”
with a cowboy on a horse lighting up a cigarette. Burnett was smart enough to
design the new flip top box for Marlboro and made sure that it stood out in the
print ad. The new design of the pack made it look more masculine and a cowboy
smoking made it look even more rugged.

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Leo Burnett
mainly used these three interesting principles to market the ‘Marlboro man’. Archetypes,
visual semiotics and the savanna principle. Archetype is the concept of behaviorism
in modern physiological theory. Carl Jung explains it as “universal, archaic
patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the
psychic counterpart”. The best example to understand archetype is the cowboy
from the Marlboro county: lone explorer and a traveler with the perception of
an independent warrior just like the heroes in ancient tales. Visual semiotics
interprets how a sign brings meaning to the consumer. Independence, liberty,
and egoism comes to one’s mind while looking at a ‘Marlboro man’ print ad. From
this aspect visuals of Marlboro Man depict masculinity and values
connected to it. The savanna principle as coined by Satoshi Kanazava explains
that the human brains have not evolved much for the last 10,000 years so we
perceive things the same way as a human living in the stone age. The Marlboro
county shown in the print ads and the TV commercials demonstrates us the nature
which we are instinctively attracted to, with the mountains, trees and lush
green fields. This scenery triggers our instinct to explore the Marlboro
county.

In 1957 Reader’s
digest published an article on smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, despite that
Marlboro’s sales went up to $20 Billion that year. This was due to emotional
and unconscious positive perception of the brand because of the Marlboro man. In
1971 a ban was introduced on cigarette advertisements on TV but that was not a
problem for Marlboro. The rugged and vivid mythical abstracts of a saddle with
a splash of red was all it needed to market the Marlboro man. Phillip Morris
started hiring all major billboards across the globe to market their new
revamped Marlboro cigarettes. All of that mythical marketing and mythical
lifestyle was eventually stopped due to the ban on cigarette advertisements but
even now a cowboy with a splash of red triggers the image of Marlboro man in
the consumer’s perception which everyone relates with the no.1 cigarette brand
in the world.  Eric Lawson was the most famous Marlboro man
(1978-1971 who died of lung cancer in 1992 before his 52nd birthday
due to cancer. This was a huge setback for all the tobacco companies as every
newspaper was publishing against cigarettes and the diseases related to it like
cancer and heart diseases.

The marketing
strategy used by Burnett was not only creative and innovative but it was well
researched as well. Burnett knew the trends of the markets and what appeals to
the public although this was due to his experience in the advertising field. The
birth of Marlboro man was a birth of a new dynamic in the field of marketing. From
having 1% market share in the US to being the no.1 cigarette brand in the world,
the success rate of this advertisement attracts the best in the business to
learn more about the techniques and methods used by Burnett to market Marlboro.
After the huge success of Marlboro man all the advertisement companies and marketers
started reading about it. This also gave birth to new principles in the field
of marketing by integrating sociology and psychology with marketing to market
the products. Later on, various universities started using the Marlboro man
case studies to teach the students what different ways can be used in the field
of marketing. Leo Burnett’s dedication to the field of marketing earned him the
title of ‘The Marlboro Man of Marketing”.

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