Don’t Be Marlboro

I have been curious lately to know how the tobacco industry has been handling CVS and other pharmacies discontinuing the sale of tobacco products as well as some states raising the tobacco (purchasing) age from 18 or 19 to 21. To my knowledge advertising for cigarettes and other tobacco products was banned from television years ago. What kind of marketing tactics has Marlboro been employing recently and who are the target audiences? I discovered that they have been running a campaign in around 50 countries called “Don’t Be a Maybe.” 

Outdoor Billboard, Jakarta, Indonesia 2013. Source: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

This same campaign ran in Germany in 2011 but has been banned since. They banned the campaign because “the English-language campaign features young people being spontaneous, sexy, creative or free – implying that by taking up the harmful habit they have shaken off their inhibitions and stopped being a “Maybe.”” They thought that the campaign was targeting young people.

Some things I am curious about with Marlboro are:

  • Who does Marlboro think the target group for this marketing campaign is?
  • Does Marlboro claim to be doing anything to prevent minors from smoking before they are of age?
  • Will Marlboro insert itself into the marijuana industry now that more states are beginning to legalize?

There aren’t a ton of articles in English about the campaign but here is one I found using ABI/INFORM Complete and cited using Ref Works that I think will be useful while writing my paper:

“Public Health Groups Urge Philip Morris International to End Global Ad   Campaign for Marlboro Cigarettes that has been found to Target Youth.” PR Newswire: n/a. Mar 12, 2014 2014. Print.



9 responses to “Don’t Be Marlboro

  1. I think this is a really interesting topic for paper 2. This is also something I have been very curious about as the entire tobacco section in CVS is now replaced with anti-smoking advertisements or advertisements to help you quit smoking. It could be an interesting perspective to interview cashiers at our local CVS and see how it has effected their job, their interactions, the questions they have to answer to uninformed customers.


  2. What is the effect of the CVS campaign on Marlboro’s business and their campaign? Is CVS inspiring other establishments that sell cigarettes to take a stand? What ethics analysis will you be using for your paper on Marlboro?


  3. I think that the “Don’t Be a Maybe” campaign is extremely interesting. As businesses cut down on the sale of tobacco products and the government becomes more strict towards it, it seems that Marlboro has embraced the fact that as people view smoking as more risky and are now trying to use it as a selling point. I also think it is interesting studying the ethicality of a company that sells a product with no true benefits which harms the health of its customers.


  4. Cigarettes truly are America’s claim to fame when it comes to exporting death to other countries. Companies like Marlboro have profited massively off the export of tobacco and have done a large amount of harm to the populations of other countries. I’m not sure where I heard it, but I believe the expectation for law suit due to the harmful nature of cigarettes is actually factored into the price of each pack. This would be interesting for you to examine because it means that they have accepted responsibility for the harm they cause but have passed that responsibility onto the consumer. The development of taxes on cigarettes is a very interesting point to examine as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, that’s a really interesting idea. I’m definitely going to look into that because right now I feel like there are a lot of different directions I can take my topic. Thanks for the help!


  5. I know that CVS is expecting incur large decreases in its revenues as a result of not selling tobacco. However, the long-term effects seem to greatly benefit CVS. I wonder what CVS’s opinion is on this disparity between short-term and long-term effects…


  6. I think Marolboro is a great company to write about. Cigarettes have always been a hot-button topic, and the questions you raise to write about are definitely interesting ones. Do you know of any statistics for how many minors smoke cigarettes in the US?


  7. When I found out about CVS eliminating the sale of cigarettes I began to wonder if other places would stop as well because of the image it gives off. Luckily for CVS, they are big enough to endure the loss they will take in the short-run unlike other companies/stores. I think Marlboro is a good topic for paper 2 because it would be interesting to actually know what barriers (if any), cigarette companies have to deal with when it comes to the production, advertising and selling of tobacco.


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