Marlboro is an American brand of cigarettes, currently owned and manufactured by Philip Morris USA (a branch of Altria) within the United States, and by Philip Morris International (now separate from Altria) outside the United States. Richmond, Virginia, is the location of the largest Marlboro cigarette manufacturing plant. Marlboro is the best-selling cigarette brand in the world since 1972. As of 2017, Marlboro had 40% market share in the United States, more than the next seven brands combined.
In the 1920s, advertising for the cigarette was primarily based on how ladylike the filter cigarette was, in an attempt to appeal to the mass market. To this end, the filter had a printed red band around it to hide lipstick stains, calling it “Beauty Tips to Keep the Paper from Your Lips”.
The red and white package was designed by designer Frank Gianninoto. The repositioning of Marlboro as a men’s cigarette was handled by Chicago advertiser Leo Burnett. The proposed campaign was to present a lineup of manly figures: sea captains, weightlifters, war correspondents, construction workers, etc. The cowboy was to have been the first in this series. While Philip Morris was concerned about the campaign, they eventually gave the green light.
Marlboro’s market share rose from less than one percent to the fourth best-selling brand. This convinced Philip Morris to drop the lineup of manly figures and stick with the cowboy, later known as the Marlboro Man. From 1963, the television advertisements used Elmer Bernstein‘s theme from The Magnificent Seven.
Over the years, Philip Morris has made many billboard, poster and magazine adverts.
Philip Morris also made various sports-related billboards, stickers and other memorabilia throughout the years, mainly promoting the Marlboro brand via its McLaren and Ferrari teams partnerships in places like Russia and Monaco.
Through licensees, Philip Morris sells various merchandising products, such as lighters, ashtrays, sunglasses and other accessories, which are sometimes given away to the target group as part of marketing promotions. In 1983, the campaign “Marlboro Adventure Team Adventure Camp” was launched, for which the participants had to apply, there was a collection of clothing and accessories.
Phillip Morris markets cigarettes,snus, and Heatsticks under the Marlboro brand.
International cigarette varieties
Philip Morris International organized Marlboro products into three divisions—Flavor line, which are original red full flavor cigarettes, Gold line are former lights, and Fresh line comprises flavored cigarettes.
In the United Kingdom, the company sells Marlboro Red, Gold, Touch and Silver King Size. In May 2020, all brands of menthol cigarettes, including Marlboro Menthol and Marlboro Ice Blast Capsule cigarettes were banned in the European Union.
Marlboro in Canada
Philip Morris sold the Canadian rights to the “Marlboro” name to Imperial Tobacco Canada in 1932. After the brand’s successful American relaunch in the 1950s – which later became well known to Canadians through exposure to the brand’s international sponsorships and advertising – Philip Morris tried several legal manoeuvres in attempting to reacquire the Canadian rights, to no avail. Imperial Tobacco continues to sell a line of cigarettes under the Marlboro name in Canada, albeit with very different packaging from that of the Philip Morris product. Philip Morris retains the rights to the “rooftop” trade dress and other elements of Marlboro’s branding which were developed after the 1932 sale, and has historically used that trade dress in Canada in combination with the names “Matador” or occasionally “Maverick” for a line of Virginia blend cigarettes.
In 2006, Philip Morris International’s Canadian affiliate Rothmans, Benson & Hedges introduced a new product with the “rooftop” trade dress, and marked as being the “World Famous Imported Blend”, but not bearing any actual brand name. This led to a legal challenge from Imperial, contending that the new packaging created customer confusion by merely suggesting the Marlboro brand, thereby infringing on Imperial’s Canadian trademark rights. Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Imperial in June 2012. The judgment noted that Canadian regulations which (in most cases) prohibit the public display of tobacco products at retail locations – i.e., customers must ask for a brand by name – exacerbated the situation, as there were now two products that customers might be referring to when asking for “Marlboro”. Though PMI is expected to appeal, shortly after the ruling it began using the brand name “Rooftop” on packaging for the previously unbranded cigarettes.