What’s The Motive Behind Those Phillip Morris Inc Newspaper Ads?
Welcome to Marlboro country where the air is fresh – the sky is clear blue – cattle roam freely grazing on sweet green grass and men are all manly – stubbly and never seen without the cowboy’s favourite cigarette brand jutting from their mouths.
That was the image created around smoking those iconic red packs my generation was given – smoking was cool and what cowboys did – these were the rough ‘n tough Marlboro men we spotty teenagers longed to be like.
That image was down to clever marketing – more Mad men than Marlboro man – but it’s an image that’s stuck fast over the decades and one I can still get wistful about given I was brought up on a diet of Cowboys and Indians movies.
Sadly that image has taken a knock over the years with at least five of the Marlboro man models dying from tobacco related illnesses.
Whilst some may say those deaths and indeed the deaths of millions of other smokers across the planet might be the ‘road to Damascus moment’ behind Phillip Morris Inc’ recent full page newspaper adverts – the old cynic in me thinks not.
If you haven’t seen or heard about these newspaper ads then here it is:
You might get a bit misty eyed at the words and think ‘wow the leopard can change its spots’ – and good for you that would make you a sunny sky optimist and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
However I’m a cynical old sod and have kept a close watching brief on Mr Morris and in particular his R&D and marketing departments.
Number Of Smokers Grows In Developing Countries
It’s actually extremely clever marketing – almost genius – and one that Don Draper [Mad Men] would chuckle over as he lit yet another fag.
Despite the number of smokers in the UK dropping dramatically [and continuing to drop] there’s still 7.6 million of them and Phillip Morris Inc has a fair share of the market.
This global company isn’t stupid and despite holding the lions share of the largest tobacco markets – mainly in developing countries where smoking figures are rising – they can see the writing is on the wall – or should that be tombstone – and slowly but surely the number of smokers globally will drop.
Hence the fact that PMI is investing around 70% of its Research and Development budget into what they are calling ‘better options’ in this case Heat Not Burn products and would you believe it e-cigarettes.
You’d better believe it because the company is hungry for growth into the vaping market and already owns Vivid Vapours – Nicocig and Mesh – whilst pushing their IQOS brand world wide on the back of some shall we say interesting in house research – recently rebutted BTW.
Here’s what they have to say to the tricky question: “How Long Will PMI Be In The Cigarette Business?”
We will be far more than a leading cigarette company. We’re building PMI’s future on smoke-free products that are a much better choice than cigarette smoking.
Indeed, our vision – for all of us at PMI – is that these products will one day replace cigarettes.
Ummm not really a specific answer to the question – ‘one day’ is very whimsical and could mean literally anything and taken from the playbook of every single politician that ever breathed – never give a straight answer lol.
So it’s all about the health of the world and sod your investors right?
Success in the cigarette business gives us the resources to pursue our ambitious vision.
Thanks to the imagination and perseverance of thousands of people at PMI, we have developed breakthrough products that are smoke-free and enjoyable.
And, we are selling them today. Millions have already given up smoking and switched to our new products, and this is just the beginning.
We’re investing to make these products the Philip Morris icons of the future.
Ah! It’s all about the money – right…
Just A Ruse To Push PMI Products?
Look I’m not saying PMI is wrong to research ‘breakthrough products’ I just wish they’d you know be a bit more honest.
It’s all very well lining the pockets of the UK newspapers and promising all kinds of how to quit advice – but there’s a rider to at least one of their ‘plans’.
PMI say they want to:
Seek Government approval to insert, directly into our cigarette packs, information on quitting and switching…
It’s that last bit that’s actually quite astute because they are cornering a trapped market to blatantly promote their own brand alternatives!
I call that advertising and technically at the moment advertising of any tobacco or vape products is tightly controlled – so no I really don’t like that one little bit!
Or OK if there was a level playing field how about a vaping starter kit manufacturer adding a card saying smoking kills inside their packets?
Nope didn’t think so.
I’m extremely dubious about the worth of HNB products and would rather listen to independent medical and scientific experts than PMI’s in house researchers.
HNB products are very new and no real testing has been done on them – unlike e-cigs which science continues to prove is much much safer than smoking.
The company has form for making grandiose statements too – and this particular article has made for a strange bedfellow for me – the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids no less lol.
Whilst I pretty much disagree with most of what that particular group stands for and says I do like the infographic they’ve produced which says it all really:
Maybe I’m wrong and maybe the Marlboro men are doing this for the right reasons – but I can’t help remembering a classic quote from Don Draper who said:
If you don’t like what is being said, then change the conversation…
Which in this case I suggest could be:
They’re all saying we knowingly kill people with our products…how about we say we’re now all about saving people…
If you read it like that then maybe a little bit of my cynicism is rubbing off 😉
We shall of course keep you informed on this unfolding saga – so watch this space…