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The commanding position Philip Morris USA holds in the nation’s cigarette business has been established through the efforts of many individuals. And James Thompson, vp-media for Philip Morris USA made that clear when he accepted Marketing & Media Decisions Eighth Annual Advertising Man of the Year Award at the Roosevelt Hotel on December 9. The award was presented by Decision’s president Robert C. Gardner and publisher David W. Bentley. In accepting the award, Thompson detailed the rise of the Philip Morris cigarette business. He traced the company’s expansion from the time when the Philip Morris brand was paged by bell-hop Johnny against the “On the Desert” theme from Ferde Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite.” Thompson detailed a remarkable growth story. “Twenty years ago, Philip Morris Inc. was the smallest of the major U.S. cigarette manufacturers, with sales of approximately $550 million. In 1982, the corporation’s revenues reached nearly $12 billion, gaining one-third from non-tobacco sources,” he said. “That made us rank 32nd in sales among Fortune’s 500 industrial corporations. Today, there are some 72,000 Philip Morris employees worldwide.” Today, he explained, Philip Morris is divided into six operating companies: * Mission Viejo, a planned community developer and home-building corporation located in Orange County, California. It was one of the few community developers to record a profit in 1982. * Philip Morris Industrial, a paper products producer for fast food chains, hotels, airlines, including tissue, specialty and packaging. * The Seven-Up Company, during 1982 jolted the soft drink industry by making the absence or presence of caffeine an issue in marketing nd advertising. * Miller Brewing Company, which startled the beer industry by introducing the first successful low-calorie beer, Lite from Miller, which holds a commanding share lead in the low-calorie segment. * Philip Morris International, marketing products of the other five divisions overseas — 140 brands in over 170 countries. * Philip Morris USA, the operating company marketing and manufacturing cigarettes in the United States. It was the success of Philip Morris USA that Thompson had come to celebrate. And here’s why. In each of the last 20 years, the company has posted both volume and market share gains. “Twenty years ago,” Thompson said, “when we were the smallest of the six major U.S. tobacco companies, we had a 9.5 market share. In 1982, we were in second place, with a 32.8 share. “That put us less than a point behind the industry leader, R.J. Reynolds. And in 1983, if the performance of the first nine months continues, it appears that we will improve significantly on that position capturing over one-third of the U.S. market.” As of the end of the third quarter, Philip Morris brands collectively were running ahead of long-time leader R.J. Reynolds. The PM major brands include the nation’s best seller, Marlboro, Benson & Hedges, the leading 100mm brand, Virginia Slims, the most popular women’s cigarette, Merit, the most successful new cigarette introduction since the broadcast ban on cigarette advertising, and brands appealing to smaller audience segments, including Continue reading
Thompson noted that it as been the same with all other PM brands, Virginia Slims, with its “You’ve come a long way baby,” to Merit, even though the brand did move away from its news report style to a new campaign with the slogan, “Reach for a world of flavor.” But Marlboro, according to Thompson, has been the most successful example of the consistent projection of an image. “Back in the early fifties, Philip Morris was searching for an entry into the fast growing filter tip category, which had tripled in size in just two years. We selected the beauty tip and ivory tipped Marlboro, a ‘specialty brand’ which had been marketed to women. We asked several agencies, including the Leo Burnett Company, to develop advertising for teh introduction of a new filter tip version. “For several years before this assignment, Mr. Burnett had been intrigued with the public’s fascination with the West and the American cowboy, which was reflected on the covers of the leading magazines of the day. Taking this opportunity to apply the western theme, he created the Marlboro Man in a newspaper ad called ‘The Sheriff.’ We made a pool of commercials using that stream-of-consciousness format, but not all of them were successful. “It was evident right from the beginning that Marlboro advertising needed programming to reach its primary consumer target. So in 1956, Marlboro became the first national television sponsor of NFL Football, beginning in association that continues today. “A pool of commercials created especially for those telecasts featured player like Johnny Lujak, Paul Hornung, Bobby Lane and several other superstars who were excellent spokesmen.” Thompson noted that the brand really soared in the mid-Sixties, as a result of two separate developments. “First the advertising campaign image was broadened to embrace the more infinite concept of ‘Marlboro Country’, and theme music from ‘The Magnificent Seven’ movie was added. “The second development that boosted sales volume in the Sixties was the introduction of two new packings, Marlboro Menthol, in 1966, and Marlboro 100′s in 1967. Introductory spending for the new packings heightened awareness of the new Marlboro Country theme. Total brand share reached 6.6 at the end of 1967 and continued to accelerate through the end of the decade.” But a watershed year for the brand was 1970, Thompson said, when broadcast advertising was denied to the cigarette industry. It was the consistency of image and theme that was carried forth from broadcast into print which secured the continued success of Marlboro, Thompson said. With the introduction of Marlboro Lights, brand share continued to climb and by the end of 1972, the overall share of Marlboro was 12.6. “The primary role of magazines in post broadcast years is to carry mainstream copy, occasionally in multiple page units to showcase some of the brand’s bolder graphics. “Magazines also support a variety of promotions–and if they look more like brand ads than promotions that’s by design, since they are created to be faithful extensions of the brand’s personality. Continue reading
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