the Marlboro Man: A Cross Cultural Perspective on the Marlboro Campaign
By Cameo Voltz
My interest in the Marlboro advertising campaign stems from its identification with being one of the first and most successful advertising and marketing strategies to reach across cultures. I focus on how the Marlboro campaign works outside of cowboy imagery in order to create successful brand identification and sales in markets beyond the United States.
Approaches to advertising and promotion in Argentina and Hong Kong, as well as some tactics used in the United States will reveal how a global advertising campaign can be localized. Because both of these examples of international markets experienced difficulty in incorporating cowboy imagery, dependence on ulterior means of promotion is necessary.
I have noticed consistent themes in varying markets. Separate focus is placed on marketing the Marlboro name or brand and advertising the Marlboro cigarette. Tactics include three apparent distinctions. Item sale or giveaway, often in the form of (but not limited to) the "Marlboro Country Store", was prevalent in several markets but in varying forms. Sponsorship of or advertising in relation to cutting edge/obscure sports was a second common theme that was especially visible in the Argentine market. Third, focus on Marlboro’s distinction as being the best selling brand worldwide provided a connection to a global market without the necessity of Marlboro Man association. This association is valuable in Chinese advertising and its connection to the Maxwell Consumer Report.
Item sale and giveaway is prevalent in each of the three markets, playing a different role in each. The US market relies upon the Country Store as an "interrupter" in its advertising scheme and through this participation, the consumers are invited to participate in Marlboro Country. Items are sold at cost or below, and the existence of these sales does not involve profit reliance. Similarly, the Hong Kong market does not rely upon profit from promotional sales, selling items for costs as low as half of market cost. China, however, does not have a Country Store. While singular promotions are used, because advertising strategy is not restricted the Country Store is not seen as necessary. The Argentine approach to promotional items is much different from either the US or the Chinese markets. Its sale of items is based highly in profit, and for the consumers, in a sense of prestige and exclusivity. It is understood by the advertising agency as well as the brand that items will not be given away. With the exception of sample cigarettes, free items are seen as devalued, and by attaching a sense of exclusivity to Marlboro items, value is given to the brand.
A dependence on sporting events was also prevalent in each of the markets, with a noted emphasis on motor sports or horse-related sports. Hong Kong sponsors a promotion yearly that determines the "Horse of the Year" by vote and additionally allows a consumer to win a raffle if they vote for the most popular horse. Hong Kong participates in Formula One racing sponsorship, but their sponsorship has expanded, finding it easier to involve themselves with motorcycle and go-cart racing. Argentina also relies heavily on motor sport sponsorship, basing their campaign not on cowboy imagery, but on cutting edge sports and a world of adventure, emotion and competition. Marlboro is associated with event promotion and sponsorship, with athlete support, and with providing press information related to sporting internationally. The United States, as well, provides sponsorship for motor sports.
Both the Argentine and the Hong Kong advertise associations with Marlboro being the number one cigarette brand worldwide. Where Argentina must pay attention to maintaining the public connection between the brand name, Marlboro, and the product, cigarette (not sport), it effectively uses the slogan, "Marlboro, number one cigarette in the world". The association made with this statement is one of Marlboro and cigarettes as well as the international nature of the brand, as well as its sense of success and the exclusive world of the international traveler. Hong Kong takes advantage of China’s lack of cigarette advertising restrictions and uses all available media resources and press/live television outlets to connect Marlboro cigarettes to their success internationally. Focusing on the Maxwell Consumer Report, which measures the market share of each cigarette brand internationally, year-round excitement is created around Marlboro’s consistent number one ranking, including live reports and celebration at the release of the report and consistent reminder throughout the year.
Return to Previous Page