Marlboro Man & The Magic of Lifestyle Marketing

Marlboro man

Marlboro Man & The Magic of Lifestyle Marketing


How Marlboro Became The Largest Cigarette Brand In The World

On 11th January 1964, the US Surgeon General Report declared that “Cigarette causes cancer and is harmful to health.” This put an $8 billion industry and 7,50,000 occupation at stake. While most cigarette companies saw their sales dropping down, there was one company that miraculously went from having a 1% market share at the time to becoming the 4th largest tobacco company within less than a year.

A little down the road, when cigarette advertisements were permanently banned from television in 1970, the same brand even gained more popularity. It went on to become the largest cigarette manufacturing company in the world. The brand we are talking about, as the title suggests, is obviously “Marlboro.”

But how did this one particular brand turn its fate towards success when all the other rival brands were nose-diving and failed to even sustain in a market that didn’t allow advertisement and marketing of their products?

The Origin of Cigarette-Mania in the USA

Cigarette popularity slowly started increasing all around the world from the start of the 20th century.It had become a common companion for the US citizens due to the stress relief it provided. With World War 1, The great depression, and later World War 2 hitting people’s life they developed the habit of smoking from quite an early age.

During that era, believe it or not, cigarettes were considered healthy! Even doctors prescribed them as remedies for common issues. Have a headache? Smoke a cigarette. Common cold? Smoke a cigarette. Constipation? Definitely smoke a cigarette! The smoking phenomenon was so rampant in the 30s and 40s, you could even buy cigarettes literally from your hospital bed.

Man buying cigarettes from his hospital bed in the 1950s

The world was not familiar with the havoc of smoking until the US Surgeon General report in 1964. And by that time, enough data and body count were there to prove the theory. While this newfound knowledge proved to be fatal for the leading cigarette brands, it presented Marlboro as a stepping stone for unprecedented success.

The Brand Airlift

After the 1964 report, cigarette brands started to do everything in their capacity to keep their reputation. Some brands tried to justify cigarettes, while some completely disproved the research itself.

brand airlift

Back then, Marlboro was a very small company that made cigarettes only for women. But as soon as the 1964 report broke out, the parent company of Marlboro, Phillip Morris, decided to change their marketing strategy and became the epitome of business propaganda in the 20th century.

Instead of justifying cigarettes or sharing difficult-to-understand statistical information, they adopted a new marketing strategy known as…

Lifestyle Marketing: Masterstroke by Marlboro

While the debate was still a hot topic, Marlboro quickly rolled out a new campaign called “The Marlboro Man.” They introduced a character in their ads that portrayed a macho, charismatic man smoking Marlboro cigarettes while doing masculine tasks like fixing a car, riding a horse, bonding with animals, etc. In short, he was supposedly everything a man wanted to be like.

Marlboro man had a perfectly built-up body, and the ad commercials portrayed him as the ultimate icon of Manhood. He was tough, stylish, affectionate, and overall stood as the representation of manliness and freedom. Men of that era were so fascinated by the image of the Marlboro Man. They were so motivated to buy their cigarettes that the advertisement became a massive game-changer for the brand. Within a year, Marlboro went from having a 1% market share to the 4th largest cigarette company in the world.

What is Lifestyle Marketing?

Lifestyle marketing is a technique where consumers buy more into the lifestyle of the icon, which is associated with the product than the product itself. It possesses aspirations, aesthetics, and ideals that the target audience identifies with. It is enticing, portrays the customers’ values or ideas, and perfectly fits the consumer’s life. And that’s precisely what Marlboro did with their cigarettes and hit the bullseye. The advertisement struck the perfect cord for their consumers owing to the paramount success.

Building on The Success & Sustaining Rank

The best part about the Marlboro Man campaign and its ads is that the cigarettes were not even the prime focus. In fact, the products got less than 10 seconds of footage time in all of those commercials.

Because of that ingenious placement, when cigarette advertisements were banned permanently from televisions in 1970, and other cigarette brands couldn’t showcase their products, Marlboro could very effortlessly turn that situation into one of its major advantages.

Marlboro now didn’t need to show its products at all to consumers due to the brilliant Lifestyle Marketing tactics it was running for the past few decades. Their focus was on Marlboro man himself, which later helped them communicate their brand’s emotion very easily, even through print and magazine advertisements.

marlboro man

The Result

While most rival brands were struggling to stay afloat trying to advertise without showing their products, the legendary Marlboro brand had sales skyrocketing to new heights through its amazing Lifestyle Marketing strategy.

If you’re looking for a top full-service advertising agency to create your own Lifestyle Marketing strategy that would uplift your brand’s image and sales, look no further. Because Sanket Communications is the best advertising agency for the job. Sanket is a 360° integrated communications agency that will scale your business up with various best-in-class advertising & marketing strategies.

About Author

Sandeep Hati is a copywriter at Sanket Communications. He is passionate about advertising trends and stories. He aims to explain the many intricacies that run the advertising and marketing world. When he’s not working, you’ll find him buried in a book or watching period cinema or failing gloriously on the same level of video game infinitely.

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