Paper Example on Marlboro Ads and American Culture

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  938 Words
Date:  2022-05-16


Marlboro brand of cigarette was formed in the year 1924, and the primary target was women. To appeal to the target market that Marlboro was safer, lighter, and feminine compared to existing brands it introduced a filter. The argument was that filter eliminated the side effects of tobacco The Marlboro slogan then was referred as Mild As May. To appeal to women, they were packaged in white boxes with feminine features like the coating of a filter with red cellulose. This was aimed at hiding the lipsticks stains (Baker, 2014). Other female ads presented sketches of a white and black color of slouched listless flappers showing bistro tables and ashtrays around them or a profile of sultry Gibson lady lipstick remained intact after a cigarette drag to show that smoking Marlboro did not know all mess with a woman's beauty (Baker, 2014).

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To target young males who were financially stable, Marlboro tried to shy away from the feminine image in the 1950s (Hafez & Ling, 2005). They introduced a packaging design that was made of hard cardboard, and the top of the box could be flip opened. This innovative and fresh design had many advantages that helped boost the sales. The toughness of the sturdy cardboard appealed to men since even in rough conditions the cigarettes remained protected. In spite of distortions, the top design resembled that of the then monochrome TV screens. Therefore, each time a smoker took out a cigarette, the bold arrow graphics of white and red color rooftop of the packet reminded him and compared it to that seen on TV.

Until the 1960s, cigarettes that had filter were viewed as feminine; therefore, Marlboro sought a way to change this line of thinking. The campaign mission from the 1960s by Marlboro aimed at creating a perception among male smokers that filters did not any way lessen the taste of tobacco (Hafez & Ling, 2005). To portray heroic past to target male consumers, they concocted macho archetypes campaigns that presented weightlifters, navy officers, and construction workers having a black tact on their hands. However, they abandoned all these in favor of cowboy image which proved to appeal to the majority of their consumers.

The image of a cowboy on Marlboro displayed masculinity image hence its appeal to men and women and the consequent rapid rise of sales. Within a year after the debut of Marlboro man, the brand was ranked fourth bestselling in the country (Hansen, 2015). The lifestyle branding that came out in displays that accompanied the Marlboro man advertisement attracted many consumers. It brought out the images that consumers aspired or imagined to be. A cowboy is viewed as a potent symbol. He is perceived to be tough since he works all year round facing changing weather and still comes out stronger and better. Apart from cowboy, there exist a few other influential symbols that present individuals who are capable of managing on their own when exposed to forces of nature. The cowboy is appreciated as a hero among Americans since he works alone and dominates his surroundings. The cowboy figure reaches out to both men and women since among women he stands out as a symbol of sex and knights heir among men (Shirk, 2015).

The Marlboro man campaigns were successful because the drives employed archetypes, visual semiotics, and the savannah principle. The cowboy from the county of Marlboro is an example of a model standing out as a traveler and a warrior. He is a version of a unique American explorer from the ancient myths. Visual semiotics tends to bring an understanding to the viewer or a reader. The Marlboro man communicates connected values such as egoism, independence, and universal masculinity (Shirk, 2015). In an American political sense, he represents liberty which made him a sign of ethos in the 1970s among the white middle class (Hansen, 2015). Also, Marlboro county is presented as a clean, natural region that has not been polluted by personal ideas of marginalization like racial equality and equal rights irrespective of gender. When living in Savanna, 10,000 years ago, the evolution of the human brain was much less thus when exposed to such view the reaction of human would be no different to that of the Stone Age. Therefore, the Savanna principle asserts that when consumers look at the natural scenery of Marlboro county in the ads, they become attentive and feel a sense of safety due to the mountains views and the lone trees. This naturally attracts us to Marlboro county to discover more about the place. The factors mentioned above project Marlboro man as an influential figure that unconsciously created a positive attitude to the product it advertised (Shirk, 2015).


The Marlboro brand has its fair share of paradox. The Marlboro man painted a picture that cowboys smoke cigarettes however this is not true. The hard and hectic works they are involved in do not allow them to drag since it would make them tire quickly. The early antecedent of the Marlboro man is found in equestrian activities of the Indians by the rodeo that perceived white masculinity re-enactment. The campaign was not geared to men even though it appealed to them since it is women who smoke Marlboro more compared to other brands. Therefore, the Marlboro man campaign was about being a white American rather than being a man.


Baker, R. (2014, November 3). Mild as May - When Marlboro Cigarettes were for Women. FLASHBAK , 127-147.

Hafez, N., & Ling, P. M. (2005). Tobacco Control. Epidemiology and Community Health , 14 (4), 1-4.

Hansen, A. (2015). THE MARLBORO MAN. The Worlds Most Powerful Advertisement on Horse Back. EQUILIFE , 1-3.

Shirk, A. (2015). The Real Marlboro Man. the Atlantic , 1-5.

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