During the early 1950’s there were six filter cigarettes on the market Winston, Kent, L&M, Viceroy, Tareyton and Parliament. Many American men considered filter tips effeminate, and together, these six brands totaled just 10% of all cigarette sales. Philip Morris had been making their non filter tipped “Mild as May” Marlboro since 1924. The brand name had been picked from early trademarks that the original English firm had registered. Marlborough and Poland streets was the location of the first Philip Morris factory in London. In 1936 a red ‘beauty’ tip, meant to hide those tell tale lip stick smears, was added to the line. This “beauty tip” line extension was advertised with the slogan “to match your lips and fingertips.” Men thought Marlboro a brand for women or sissies, and in 1954 sales were less than one quarter of one percent a brand with a dim future. With little to lose, Philip Morris decided to name a new filter tip cigarette Marlboro. Beginning May 1954, Marlboro with a recessed “selectrate filter” was test marketed in Texas.

Cecil & Presbrey, a small advertising agency who’s main asset seems to have been the Marlboro account supervisor, who just happened to be the son of the Chairman of the Board of Philip Morris, was responsible for the initial Texas newspaper ads. Packaging was the new crush proof flip top box, which looked pretty much like it does today, except that a solid red color wasn’t used. Leo Burnett was the head of the advertising agency that was awarded the Marlboro account in November 1954, and he thought that the red and white stripes looked pink, and that the pack had an effete look. At Burnett’s request, Philip Morris switched to a solid red chevron. Burnett had asked his employees to identify a masculine image, and one of his copy writers suggested a cowboy. A stock photo of a cowboy was dug out of their files, and the phrase “Delivers the goods on flavor” added. This first Marlboro Man ad was used in the Dallas/Fort Worth test beginning January 1955. Burnett decided that men other than cowboys, men who were tough but with a polished air about them, could also be rugged Marlboro Men. With a simple military tattoo inked onto the back of his hand, the hunter, gardener, sailor or pilot became Marlboro Men. The tattoo supposedly signifying an adventurous past, became the Marlboro Man’s signature until replaced by a “Marlboro Country” cowboy in 1962. The Magnificent Seven movie music you are listening to was sequenced by Mr. Gary Wachtel. Philip Morris purchased the rights to Elmer Bernstein’s classic movie soundtrack, The Magnificent Seven, in 1963. This superb Academy Award nominated score was then used as background music for their Marlboro TV commercials. Jingles plus the music from the Magnificent Seven .

Marlboro You get a lot to like 1955 1962.

The first Marlboro Men weren’t professional models, just good looking guys. These men came from all walks of life garage mechanics to white collar businessmen. Each had one thing in common they were tough looking with a worldly, successful air about them. The first was a US Navy Lieutenant. Later, advertising executive Leo Burnett’s own art director was used. However, the most successful were pilots. Little wrinkles around a pilot’s eyes made them particularly appealing to both men and women. The newspaper ads produced by Leo Burnett for the Texas test were also used when Marlboro began to go national. The advertising campaign opened in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The Marlboro Man took New York by storm, and Marlboro quickly became the number one selling filter tip cigarette there. Sales went from the 18 million Marlboros sold in 1954, to 6.4 billion in 1955.

Lady Marlboro with his first cowboy ad in January 1955, advertising executive Leo Burnett gave Marlboro Filters an exclusively male personality. Positioning the new brand to appeal to just one half of the smoking population was considered risky. As it turned out, though, this was the right decision. Marlboro sales for 1957 were 19.5 billion cigarettes, up from almost nothing in 1954. However, sales slowed in 1958 because of an anti smoking article published in Readers

This article was the first public documentation of just how bad cigarettes were for the smoker’s health, and how ineffective most filters were. The Kent Cigarette is a high filtration brand, and the only cigarette Readers Digest felt had a worthwhile filter. Kent sales rose dramaticly, while Marlboro sales leveled off at 20.7 billion cigarettes. Philip Morris executives decided to keep Marlboro filters a full flavor brand, but did improve the filter. Another change was that Leo Burnett was allowed to produce TV commercials featuring Julie London singing “You get a lot to like with a Marlboro,” and a few magazine ads picturing women in Marlboro country.

D. W. Lights up Marlboro Country 1970’s.


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Welcome to Canada’s Marlboro Country.
Well, sort of. In July 2006, the Canadian subsidiary of Philip Morris/Altria launched, for the very first time, a cigarette that looks like, smells like, and by all accounts, tastes like, the world’s largest cigarette brand.

The only noticeable difference is that this Marlboro like brand does not carry the Marlboro name. That’s because the Marlboro name is owned by a BAT’s affiliate Philip Morris/Altria’s biggest competitor in the global cigarette market. Since 1932 the Marlboro trade mark has been owned by BAT related companies and they have staunchly kept it in use to defend against Philip Morris introducing its much more popular brand. Many Canadians are very unaware that cigarettes with the Marlboro name are marketed in Canada they are carried by a small number of tobacco stores, and are often stored in the bottom shelves. The package (see right) is relatively nondescript, as are the sales figures (less than 1 tenth of one percent market share).

The cigarettes now available in Canada may not carry the Marlboro name, but, as the package samples below illustrate, they can be readily identified as the world’s most famous brand.

Canadian manufactured no name Marlboro’s, available in Ottawa stores, July 2006. U.S. manufactured Marlboro picked up on Ottawa’s streets. Will the secret be revealed?

BAT researchers found that the exact blend and taste of Marlboro varied considerably around the world, but that there was a consistency in the way Philip Morris used ammoniation and other measures to manipulate smoke ph and available ‘free nicotine’ in the smoke. They dubbed this “the Secret of Marlboro”.

Although Rothmans, Benson and Hedges will have to provide the Canadian government with a list of ingredients and measurements of the smoke from the cigarette, these reports are not required until after the product has been introduced to the market. The first report will be due to be filed with Health Canada in October 2006. Health Canada has only made individual reports on cigarette brands public on one occasion, even though quarterly reports have been required since 2000..

A challenge to conventional regulation.

Canada’s tobacco laws, like those in other countries, are based on the premise that Cigarettes are sold with brand names, and that words are used to communicate ideas about cigarettes. The use of icons (like cow boys, colours, angles, patterns of colour and white) are more difficult to regulate.

Over a decade has passed since Canada’s parliament last considered whether cigarettes should be sold in ‘plain’ packages. Such packages would have brand names and health warnings, but would not have brand imagery or colours. The new no name Marlboro’s are the direct opposite of this approach they can rely only on brand imagery and colours to communicate. When a picture is worth a thousand words, the words become dispensible, perhaps.

Phillip Morris owns 40% of Rothmans, Benson and Hedges. The other 60% is owned by Rothmans Inc.