26 June, 2007

Phillip Morris: Happy Trails, Marlboro Man

Ad Age recently ran a write-up on the Marlboro Man going MIA. In the US, Phillip Morris put the clamp on measured media spending for cigarettes, and 2006 marked the first year the stetsoned smoke hound and his trusty stud were absent from the ad range since 1955.

That in itself is of little concern when you consider the net results. While media spending has plummeted, Marlboro’s market share's climbed faster than a monkey on PCP. For some, it may be tough to wrap their head around the equation. Less add spending equals more market share? Sounds counterintuitive. But consider the fact that cigarettes were chased out of the traditional ad channels (namely TV and radio) long ago, leaving print to carry the weight. Now, it appears the sun has set on that channel, too.

The range has changed. Advertising is more about instant gratification, more sophisticated demographic targeting, and personal interaction. There’s a new sheriff in town. Actually, there’s a bunch of new sheriffs, and they’re wielding online coupons and free swag. The Internet and Point-of-Sale promotions have shaped the new frontier. They’re more immediate, more interactive. And they play perfectly to a consumer base with a contemporary attention span (read: short) that demands more. And while many consumers believe that smoking is cool, smoking while wearing the visor and t-shirt that came free with the carton ($2.00 off with online coupon) is like breaking the sound barrier of awesomeness!

With that said, I can’t help but ask: have we just made it a lot easier (and a lot less expensive) for tobacco companies to reach consumers? Traditional media buys swallow ad budgets whole while POS and interactive tactics cost a relative pittance, yet have produced some impressive results. By forcing tobacco companies out of the mass advertising venues, we've encouraged them to get a little more creative, and in the process, get a better ROI from every ad dollar they spend. They’ve adapted like those dinosaurs in Jurassic Park that found a way to breed anyway. And, well, we all saw how that ended.

So, while the cowboy has moseyed onward to the big ad Valhalla, we're left to wonder: does it really matter? The scary truth is that Phil’s doing just fine without him.

Ashes to ashes, my chain-smoking compadre.

-M.M. McDermott, Senior Copywriter

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4 others 'fessed up:

Anonymous,  July 18, 2008 at 4:13 AM  

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Blogger October 18, 2016 at 3:41 AM  

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