Marlboro Rebranding Plan
For this project, I chose Marlboro cigarettes. I wish to organize a plan for the company
to bring their product to a whole new audience—college students. Since the majority of
Marlboro smokers are older, brand-loyal consumers and because of the countless laws against
tobacco advertising, the plan may come across as futile. I understand that this could be seen with
low morality, but from a business perspective, successfully attracting this market could bring
loads of profit.
Marlboro is one of the most notable, top-selling brands of
Marlboro has one of the most recognizable brand logos in
Advertising history in the Marlboro man.
Marlboro cigarettes not only carry a tough, rebel lifestyle, but
when one smokes a Marlboro they join a group with the likes of Al
Pacino, Dennis Hopper, and Brad Pitt among others.
The product of cigarettes, in general, contains addictive
ingredients; this will bring customers to keep purchasing.
A large variety of cigarette brands exists.
A pack of cigarettes and its high sales taxes may not work with
a college budget. There are cheaper brands of cigarettes, too.
Price remains a significant factor in the mind of the college
Many federal laws prohibit traditional forms of tobacco
College consumers tend to buy things upon impulse.
Use of social, mobile, and online media is ever growing with
A largely negative view of cigarettes exists in the United States.
There is always the possibility of new legislation inhibiting
efforts from the cigarette industry.
Cannot let another cigarette brand effectively reach college
I have gathered both primary and secondary research to further strengthen the main ideas
of this campaign. As part of my primary research, I interviewed a male and female smoker of
the Baby Boomer generation to get a clearer view of cigarette smoking in past college years,
these two accounts being specifically from the 1970s. No matter the era, young adults have
similar habits in why they desire and try certain things; so, understanding the past more fully
could present fresh methods for my plan. Both interviewees agreed upon the fact that they
started smoking only because it was cool at the time, though they both have yet to kick the habit
forty years later. The traditional forms of advertising did not have a large effect on either of
them; rather, it was the fact that their peers were doing it. To this day, these two smokers finish
a pack every two to three days and remain loyal to certain brands, one being Virginia Slims and
the other Marlboro. They have both stuck to their respective brand because the taste has simply
become familiar to them.
I then interviewed a Generation Y, male smoker who is currently a college student. He
explained that he, too, started because his friends were smoking. This interviewee loves lighting
up particularly for its socially interactive quality. He told me he has met many of his current
closest friends while smoking a cigarette. His view of smoking, however, differs from the Baby
Boomer’s account in that he smokes only while drinking. He noted that cigarettes receive more
and more negative attention with the years, but it does not bother him or his friends. He claims
he intends to quit after college, so he will, as he put it, “smoke it up” for now.
These simple questions show that Marlboro can attract the college market without the
traditional print and television advertising that it is heavily prohibited from using. College
students obviously feel invincible at this time in their life, and they will try just about anything,
especially when inhibitions are lowered with the flow of drinks. The socializing quality of
cigarettes can deeply attract many college level consumers because they are always meeting new
people and looking to meet more and more. Back in the 70s, Marlboro gained a lifetime
customer in my first interviewee. The possibility for more lifetime consumers still exists.
There is an influx of secondary information regarding smoking habits of college students,
as well. In a journal entitled “Gendered Dimensions of Smoking Among College Students,”
Mark Nichter finds that many students not only smoke while drinking due to its more positive
reception, but also because of the ease it brings in meeting people, especially those of the
opposite sex. The main idea to realize here is that drinking and smoking go together for many
college students. Outside of that, two of important factors come into possible play from my
research—diet and stress management. “The female weight-controlled smoker: a profile,” a
journal by Cynthia Pomerleau explains that many young adults, men and women, smoke to
maintain a thin bodily frame. In today’s culture, controlling weight is almost vital to survival. In
another article, “Depression vulnerability predicts cigarette smoking among college students,”
researchers Morrell and Cohen say that 31.9% of students smoke to release anxiety and stress.
Taking all of this information into accord, Marlboro can capitalize dramatically on this market.
Intended Position: The cigarette that is as smooth, pleasurable, and cool as the man
(or woman) who smokes it.
Taglines: “Smooth Character.” “Discover More.” “Where A Man Belongs.” “Pleasure
Brand Voice: Fancy (Rich), Formal, Culturally Cool
Brand Promise: We’re here to give you smokers a rich and unique flavorful cigarette,
as well as the rich and unique experience that comes with it.
Target Consumer: Smokers that want cheaper, yet still classy cigarettes that still
Intended Position: The cigarette to accompany the average person’s everyday
tasks with pleasure.
Brand Voice: Active, Pragmatic
Brand Promise: We’re here to give you physically active smokers a pleasurable
boost to further enjoy your everyday tasks.
Target Consumer: Smokers than want cheaper cigarettes (price over taste).
Physically active smokers. Nearly 50% share of African American market.
Intended Position: the cigarette that is as rich, intelligent, and complex as the man
(or woman) who smokes it.
Taglines: “You’re so smart to smoke Parliaments.” “Only the flavor touches your
Brand Voice: Luxury, Wealth, Intelligence
Brand Promise: We’re here not only to give you wealthy smokers a high-end
cigarette, but also to send you to the beach upon every puff.
Target Consumer: High-end, wealthy smokers. Those seeking a recessed filter
(lowering the mouth’s contact with tar)
After analyzing the positions of Marlboro competitors and gathering research, I feel that
any substantial branding changes are not necessary, but a few may show to be successful.
Position mapping of top competitors in this industry indicates that Marlboro holds a distinct and
firm position in the market. To be exact, records show that Marlboro held 42% of the entire
market in 2011. In other words, they are a little more expensive, but it is worth the buy because
they are obviously good cigarettes. All of this information works greatly in Marlboro’s favor; it
shows reliability to any college student on the fringe of deciding to smoke. To spread the words
of this reliability, Marlboro needs to execute two specific elements of the brand strategy--raising
brand awareness and creating strong relationships with this new college market.
To accomplish the two tasks in this brand strategy, however, Marlboro’s big name will
not sell itself. Marlboro could hold promotion deals at college campus stores, especially during
exam weeks when stress is at an all-time high, or have their representatives flock to campus bars
spreading Marlboro’s name. Getting the name out there in a fun, cool light in a completely
college environment will work wonders. Furthermore, to reach this specific college market,
Marlboro might think of changing the design on their packages or even the packages themselves.
Innovation and change is what catches the college consumer these days. They buy into new
trends all the time. Budweiser, for example, radically changed the design of its historically
famous can to a younger, more modern style to reach a younger market. It showed to be
successful, at least in the beginning.
It is essential that Marlboro form a strong bong with customers. If a student starts on
Marlboros, he or she is not likely to stray from Marlboro due to that fact that smokers usually
stick by the brand with which they are familiar. Getting these young adults on mailing lists or
any generalized contact at that will always give them the constant reminder of the aura that is
Marlboro. All in all, for any of this to happen, smoking simply needs to be seen as cool again at
least in the college environment.
Why Statement: To make college life a little easier--and maybe just a little more fun
[or enjoyable] at that.
Positioning Statement: The company that gives you that moment to just relax.
Rationale: When college students need to simply take a break from life and relax,
they’ll think nothing other than Marlboro.
Brand Promise: A quick and enjoyable release from the pressures of everyday life.
Reasons to Believe:
Scientific information showing the ways cigarettes relax the body.
The history, tradition, and high level of respect that Marlboro cigarettes have
carried and carry to this day.
The words and experiences of loyal Marlboro smokers.
Brand Character: Authentic, Successful, Dominant
Brand Personality: Trustworthy, Creative, Young, Popular
Consumer Target Demographic
The main audience Marlboro will want to target here is college students in the United
States. These subjects, both men and women, average an age from 18 to 24 years. They are very
price conscious, for the most part. The main traits of this audience, though, will be their life
values and psychographics. With all the known harms to human health that Marlboro’s product
carries and the negative attention cigarettes receive constantly, this audience will certainly have
to live life on the edge, in so many words, to a certain extent. Our audience will not, to a major
extent, consist of athletes, medical students, or non-drinkers. The group at which we will be
targeting is the rebellious, but fun-seeking group. Students that already smoke will know what
they want; we want to attract those students who will give it at least one try. This stage in our
audience’s life is the point at which they will try anything if it sounds good enough.
One student that fits our targeted characteristics is the young male at the bar on a
Thursday night. Thursday is a school night, obviously, but many students choose to go out on
the town on Thursdays. These excess pleasure seekers are part of our target. This specific wildsider is 18 or 19 years old. Though 18 years of age is old enough to buy tobacco, it is not enough
to drink legally. By federal law, one must be 21 to consume alcohol; however, underage
drinking on college campuses is almost guaranteed to take place.
This young man is your typical college boy, though. Loves anything beer or party
related. He is wearing a collared shirt and jeans. He is obviously sociable as he knows many
people at the bar and is quite boisterous. He is ready to try just about anything, not only because
he will look cooler or funnier in front of friends, but also simply because he is the exact kind of
person who would.
With this information, we can dive yet a little deeper. We can assume that this guy has
just finished a hard week of studying and is ready to release every bit of stress built up inside of
him. He is currently feeling the common rush that comes with drinking underage at a bar, the
rush of invincibility. He will more than likely have alcohol in his system, as well, since currentday students begin drinking heavily prior to entering a bar. In other words, this young man is in
prime condition to go for more thrills, or a cigarette. We’ve got him.
The three best ways to reach this specific target audience, outside of physically
conversing with them in the real world and while abiding by tobacco advertisement legislation,
will be through the web, film, and music. After raising the awareness for Marlboros and
building a personal relationship, Marlboro could lead these customers toward digital advertising.
A website presenting information on their cigarettes, any upcoming deals, interactive elements,
and a shop could rake in customers. Many websites, like Google, for instance, have rejected any
and all offers to advertise tobacco, so other online advertising will not be easy. College students
are constantly surfing the web, however, so it is vital to infiltrate this medium. Creating
redirection websites from popular websites could help at least put Marlboro in someone’s mind
for the split second that they are on the site. Twitter and Facebook pages will play a very large
role, too. It remains of utmost importance that Marlboro constantly try to brighten its image in
any way possible. These social sites are not only great for public relations management, but also
for spread of mouth in consumers, which exists as one of our main benefits. Apps, as well as emails, presenting updates and news of weekly deals or certain promotions for specific days could
directly and quickly influence buying behavior.
Product placement in film will remain just as important as web advertising for Marlboro.
Film has always been a strong outlet to exhibit beautiful and famous people smoking cigarettes.
Young men and women are so heavily influenced by celebrities that seeing one of their favorites
smoking a Marlboro could suck them right into our business. Certain movies and
actors/actresses will attract different sects of our audience, though. Smoking in college-set
movies will have the most impact. However, watching Bruce Willis smoke a Marlboro in a
movie like Die Hard, for example, or any actions movie at that, will attract young males. Seeing
gorgeous women like Scarlett Johansson and Demi Moore sexily lighting up on the big screen
will bring a female audience. James Bond holding a Marlboro attracts those classier college
audiences. Every star in a movie is respective to the how the viewer sees himself/herself
smoking. The rating will have an impact, as well. The movie must be rated PG-13 or R to have
any college students watch it. Most importantly, smoking must be seen in a bright, cool light in
Music is another popular form of media among college students. It is hard to see any
student on a college campus these days who is not wearing headphones. Rap, dance, electronic,
and independent music are four popular genres to today’s students. These style’s lyrics, many
directly expressing the fun in partying, drinking, drugs, and sex, hold dramatic influences over
young students. If Marlboro could get Kanye West to rap about lighting up a Marlboro, Ke$ha
to sing of the fun in smoking a Marlboro at a party, or Edward Sharpe to croon about relaxing
with a Marlboro, students would ambush convenient stores all over the nation for a pack.
Album covers provide another potential vehicle for Marlboro, as well. If only Paul McCartney
was holding a Marlboro on the cover of Abbey Road…
Marlboro needs to capitalize on three specific times of the year for maximum profit.
Promotional deals or sales during exam weeks in December and May will give students greater
reason to buy, as they need to quickly kill loads of stress. Depending upon the release of certain
movies in which Marlboro cigarettes make appearances, sales promotions could be made
accordingly. The Holidays remain a time of constant film release. The cold weather paired with
seeing Daniel Craig light up a Marlboro on screen in the snow could increase sales dramatically.
Though cigarettes scientifically make your body colder, many people smoke in the cold, thinking
they are warming themselves. The winter months, in general, could be a great time to promote
huge sales and deals on the Internet as many web surfers will be inside on the computer for large
parts of the day.
Opportunity: Today’s youth are tomorrow’s smokers. The college market is a
potential goldmine for business. Get them to give a cigarette the “ole college
try” once, and the next times will come much easier. There is not a whole lot
of competition in the market, either.
Target Audience: The main audience here is college students. They are 18-24 years
old, both men & women. We won’t get every college student smoking; so, our more
specified audience will possess basic, main qualities like an infatuation with drinking,
being incautious to an extent, and rebelling. They are very price conscious, too.
Consumer Insight: These consumers will only smoke for a scarce variety of reasons.
Some will smoke to relax and ease the many stresses that college life carries with it.
Others will light up to socialize, to maintain weight, or to rebel against the common,
mainstream culture. Most of our audience will smoke, however, only when they are
drinking. Drinking is almost as synonymous with college as books are these days. All in
all, these students will only be seen smoking a cigarette if they can feel somewhat cool,
or at least not embarrassed while doing so. All of these qualities must be joined fluently,
clearly, and efficiently.
Brand Imperatives: We must keep the high standard of Marlboro, but present it in a
younger, more pleasurable, fun view. We must express a reliability factor, as well. They
must know when they buy into the Marlboro brand, they will not only get the best mix of
flavor and tobacco, but also be better accepted in a smoking environment. Holding a
Marlboro exudes experience, more so than any other brand. It is crucial that we keep
these traits in mind.
Communication Objectives: Our goal here is to sell cigarettes, but it is also to
communicate with students that we are here for them, that Marlboro is their friend. It is
important to keep these consumers in constant contact. Though our product’s addictive
quality will eventually sell itself, we must regularly remind the majority of them of the
name Marlboro to keep it always at the forefront of their mind. Communication channels
between the two groups must be always be clear and accessible. Accomplish these goals,
and they will surely buy from us.
Proposition: We’re selling relaxation, pleasure, and a fun time in a box. Taking a
deep breath with a Marlboro makes you one with yourself and slows the rapid pace of life
down just a bit. However, it accomplishes these things all in an enjoyable environment.
Creative Direction: We must go younger in all facets. We want to keep the basic,
traditional model of Marlboro cigarettes, but younger, more modern designs may show to
be successful. The professional and formal tobacco advertising is not going to attract
young students. Action, excitement, and surprise seem to be the best advertising qualities
toward the younger generations. They are always looking for something new. If our
creativity can at least catch the eye of a potential smoker, our chances of a sale increase
Media Imperative: Traditional cigarette ads are pretty plain, simple, and only
pertain to older consumers. We are looking for ideas of potential fresh entries into more
films, music, and online sites that college students are watching, listening to, and surfing
on. These media must present our cigarettes in a popular vision, however. Keep in mind
the various legislations against tobacco advertising.
My print ad depicts two men (one white, one black) and two women (one white, one
Hispanic), sitting at a table on a bar’s patio. Their young faces indicate them to be in their very
early twenties, and they are all aesthetically good-looking and skinny. They are smoking
Marlboro Golds, laughing and having a visibly fun time. There are party lights all over, and
people line the background dancing. A pack of Marlboro Golds and a few unidentifiable, but
alcoholic drinks are on the table. This not only exhibits that Marlboros provide social
interaction, but are also great during a night of drinking. The drinks, cigarettes, and joyous
environment indicate a very relaxed environment, as well. No one looks at them in disgust in
this ad; cigarettes are simply a normal part of life. College students will be able to perfectly
relate to these four people. This specific ad will not have any features that jump out of the print,
but they will exhibit the exact experience college kids desire to live on the weekends.
The headline reads: “Relax.” A sub-headline below it reads: “Take a break. Take a load
off. Just take a deep breath. Life doesn’t have to be stressful.” The body copy at the bottom
says, “The element that never rusts: Gold. Like a chemistry experiment outside the classroom,
Marlboro Golds provide a mix of refreshment and smooth flavor like no other.” This body copy
gives a hint at keeping the traditional cigarette copy by explaining taste, but tries to hint at more
college humor. In addition, college students most likely will not read any long copy; so, keeping
it short and compact will have the best impact. In the bottom right corner stands a pack of
Marlboro Golds with the Marlboro logo. The words “Marlboro Gold” hovering to the left of it.
In the upper right corner resides the Surgeon General’s Warning.
This may be viewed as a stretch, but I’ve always felt like creating a pack of cigarettes that
holds only 7 sticks compared the to normal 20 would be a highly purchased product. If Marlboro
did this with its various flavors of cigarettes, and marked down the price respectively, many
more consumers would be attracted. Some smokers just want a few cigarettes, not 20; therefore,
they will not spend the high price to buy 20.
Knowing this information, along with the research I have found in the correlation
between alcohol and smoking among college students, I would introduce this new pack to the
nation on July 7 (7/7). Even further, I would cut a deal with Jack Daniel’s Whiskey for these
packs to be sold for free with a purchase of their “Lucky Number 7” bottles. All stores selling
alcohol on campuses or near campuses can promote the event on their walls all throughout June
and even present reminder cards on the counter or with purchases. We must not only invade the
stores where they regularly buy, but also the bars where they regularly go. More deals with Jack
Daniels for free Marlboros can be applied with purchases of the whiskey at a bar. It remains
extremely difficult to advertise alcohol and tobacco to college students traditionally because of
so much opposed legislation, but through these methods, we can attempt to bypass it. The only
other problem is that Marlboro will just have to wait for the year that July 7 falls on a Thursday,
Friday, or Saturday.
Guerilla marketing for the cause of smoking cigarettes may only show to give negative
attention to cigarette companies. Advertising that is so in-your-face is already surprising
enough, but guerilla marketing pro-cigarettes may simply anger more people than it will
influence. All of that aside, I’ve always seen bike racks, traffic-guiding poles, street light poles,
and cross walks as great structures for the form of a cigarette. Tie paper around them or paint
them, give them cigarette details, and write Marlboro in giant letters around the filter. These
structures exist all over college campuses everywhere; Marlboro could cover half a campus with
its name. Any campuses near a giant water tank or smoke stacks would provide an even farther
reach for this idea, too.
Our target group of consumers would be interested because they would be seeing these
cigarette models all over campus. It is sure to cause a buzz, positive or negative. The brand
Marlboro will reside at the front of his/her mind at that point. With cigarettes, the simple
thought of one is enough incentive for most to buy. By spreading the word of Marlboro, the
product will do the rest.