How “advertisement magician” Leo Burnett has made “sex-change operation” to Marlboro Brand

For the first time, the Marlboro brand appeared in 1924 and positioned itself as the first lady’s cigarettes. During these years, the fact of the sale of cigarettes to women was a cultural shock, just as whether cigarettes were made specifically for babies. Lady cigarettes have appeared thanks to suffragettes who fought for universal right to vote. These ladies wanted equality in everything, including bad habits – and they got it.

Marlboro Cigarette Pack

Marlboro Cigarette Pack

It became a big challenge for the creative people of that century to do female advertising for a male product. Marlboro cigarettes were presented as feminine cigarettes. It was picked up a purely feminine slogan: “Mild as May”. The Hollywood star Mae West was invited as a person for advertising.

Packing as well was focused on the ladies’ audience: a filter with a red stripe served a dual purpose: to hide careless mark of lipstick and protect women’s white teeth from yellowing. Brand had a very average success: all the same, no matter how advertising specialists had tried, product was not enough attractive to women: cigarette spoiled breath, teeth turned yellow and a painful dry cough appeared.

Two decades later, the brand had to “change its sex”. In 1953, medical scientists have officially declared that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. Tobacco consumption in the U.S. declined for the first time in the history of the country. In this regard, communicative platform of Marlboro replaced: Philip Morris, brand owner, decided to fill another niche in the market. Now people, who are afraid of dying from cancer, but can not quit smoking, had to become targeted audience.

Cigarette manufacturers were hesitant to market a “masculine” filtered cigarettes – it seemed clearly a losing marketing mix. However, Philip Morris took this step.

In order to change the perception of cigarettes with filter, as a product “for girls”, it needed a brilliant marketing decision, and Morris decided to invite one of the best American specialists on advertising – Leo Burnett. The future advertising legend decided to kill all feminine signs in the brand by means of embodied masculinity. Burnett invented a series of images – “sea wolf”, “builder-swinger”, “military correspondent”. They had to add a hefty dose of testosterone to Marlboro cigarettes. The first and main way was, of course, “Cowboy – prairie tamer”. Leo Burnett has built a future campaign around this character.

Cowboy – the embodiment of American spirit – touched consumers on the raw. Prints reminded heroes of America – brutal guys, taking wild steppes. Cowboy conquered everybody – men and women, black and Latinos. In just one year Marlboro sales grew so much that began to occupy the fourth position in the ranking of sales of all tobacco products.

Along with the gained image of brutal cigarettes for real men, the brand got rid of excess of refinement in the image. Initially, in an era of “feminine” nature, it required association with the duke surname Marlborough – now it is necessary to get rid of the aristocratic effeminacy.

Designer Frank Dzhanninoto developed the new masculine pack for Marlboro: white color, like an arrow, was piercing into the red.

Since that time, “Marlboro Cowboy” became one of the most successful advertising images, and Marlboro cigarettes – the most top-selling brand.

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