Marlboro (cigarette)

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Marlboro logo.png
Product type Cigarette
Produced by Phillip Morris USA, Philip Morris International
Introduced 1904[1]
Marlboro cigarettes in package

Marlboro (US /ˈmɑrb(ə)r/,[2] UK /ˈmɑːlb(ə)rə/ or UK /ˈmɔːlb(ə)rə/[3]) is the largest selling brand of cigarettes in the world. It is made by Philip Morris USA (a branch of Altria) within the US, and by Philip Morris International (now separate from Altria) outside the US. It is well known for its billboard advertisements, magazine ads of the Marlboro Man, and its long associated history in the sponsorship of motorsport. Richmond, Virginia, is the location of the largest Marlboro cigarette manufacturing plant.


Philip Morris launched the Marlboro brand in 1924 as a woman's cigarette, based on the slogan "Mild As May". In the 1920s, advertising for the cigarette was primarily based around how ladylike the filter cigarette was, in an attempt to appeal to the mass market.[4] 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".[1]

Marlboro Silver Pack (previously, Ultra Lights)

After scientists published a major study linking smoking to lung cancer in the 1950s, Philip Morris repositioned Marlboro as a men's cigarette in order to fit a market niche of men who were concerned about lung cancer. At the time, filtered cigarettes were considered safer than unfiltered cigarettes, but had been until that time only marketed to women. Men at the time indicated that while they would consider switching to a filtered cigarette, they were concerned about being seen smoking a cigarette marketed to women.[1]

The red and white package was designed by the 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.[1]

Within a year, 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.[1]

In order to comply with a court ruling USA vs. Philip Morris,[5] Philip Morris (and all other cigarette companies) is now prevented from using words such as "Lights", "Ultra-Lights", "Medium", "Mild", or any similar designation that yields a false impression that they are safer than regular full flavor cigarettes. Thus Marlboro and other cigarette companies must use only color-coding instead; for example Marlboro Lights are now called Marlboro Gold Pack.

Philip Morris responded to the popularity of Pall Mall, the number three brand, by pushing Marlboro Special Blends, a lower-priced cigarette.[6]

Motorsport sponsorship[edit]

Formula One[edit]

BRM P180: Marlboro's motorsport sponsorship started with the BRM Formula One team in 1972.

Marlboro is known for its sponsorship of motor racing. This started in 1972 with its sponsorship of Formula One teams BRM and Iso Marlboro-Ford. The former took one win at the very wet Monaco Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher won his fourth world title in 2001.

For 1974 Marlboro dissolved its sponsorship of both teams and became famously associated with the McLaren team, which brought it its first constructors' championship and its drivers title for Emerson Fittipaldi. The team was successful through to 1978, with another world champion in James Hunt in 1976. Following that the partnership went through a dry patch until Ron Dennis's Project Four Organisation took over the team in 1981. Marlboro-sponsored McLarens dominated F1 for much of the 1980s and early 1990s, with Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna between them winning the drivers' championship all but one year from 1984 to 1991. After the departure of Ayrton Senna in 1993, Marlboro McLaren did not win a race for three years. Marlboro ended their sponsorship of the team in 1996, which ended the famous red and white McLaren livery.

Marlboro also sponsored Scuderia Ferrari as secondary sponsor from the mid-1980s as a result of company president Enzo Ferrari, who refused to allow "outside" sponsor brands to appear on his team cars. Five years after his death in 1988, Marlboro began to take over as the primary sponsor, which they would be later officially branded as Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.

Prominent Marlboro branding on Ferrari Formula One car and team at the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix.

In September 2005, Ferrari signed an extension of their sponsorship arrangement with Marlboro until 2011. This comes at a time when tobacco sponsorship has become wholly illegal in the European Union (including F1 races) and other major teams have withdrawn from relationships with tobacco companies, for example McLaren ended their eight-year relationship with West, Renault broke with Japan Tobacco and British American Tobacco withdrew in 2006. In reporting the deal, F1 Racing magazine judged it to be a "black day" for the sport, putting non-tobacco funded teams at a disadvantage and discouraging other brands from entering a sport still associated with tobacco. The magazine estimates that in the period between 2005 and 2011 Ferrari will receive $1 billion from the agreement. Depending on the venue of races (and the particular national laws) the Marlboro branding will be largely subliminal in most countries. In April 2008, Marlboro displayed explicit on-car branding on Ferrari for the last time, now permanently replaced with a variety of barcodes in place of it. Now there are calls from leading health officials, the European Commissioner for Health and influential doctors for a review of the subliminal advertising contract Marlboro has with Advertising Guerrilla and Ferrari, due to the implications of influencing the purchase of cigarettes with possible subliminal advertising, as no tobacco products can be promoted in sporting events in Europe by law.[7] The Ferrari team claims the barcode is part of the car design, not an advertising message.[8]

The controversial barcode design was recently removed by Ferrari for the start of the Spanish Grand Prix in the 2010 season but the barcode remains on drivers team gear.[9] In January 2011, the Scuderia Ferrari presented a new logo for its racing team. This logo is considered by a specialised F1-website[10] as a subliminal advertisement for Marlboro, evocating the top-left corner design of a Marlboro cigarettes pack.

In June 2011, Ferrari extended its collaboration with Marlboro through to the end of 2015, despite cigarette advertising being banned in the sport.[11]

Marlboro also sponsored the Alfa Romeo F1 Team between 1980 and 1983, although unable to match up to its pre-war and 1950s heyday, the team only achieving one pole position, one fastest lap and four podium finishes.

Other racing series[edit]

Since their start in Formula One, Marlboro has also sponsored numerous teams and races, from Joest Racing in Group C in 1983 to Toyota at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1999 (despite a tobacco ban in France) and Marlboro Masters Formula Three race in Zandvoort.

Penske PC-22 driven by Emerson Fittipaldi in 1993.

Marlboro sponsorship in Champ Car (also known as 'CART' and 'IndyCar' at that time) dates back to 1986. The Penske cars in the Indy Racing League (IRL) currently run in Marlboro's distinctive red and white colors. In 2006, a Marlboro-sponsored car won the Indianapolis 500. However for the 2007 season, Marlboro have ceased their sponsorship of the Penske Cars, their place being taken by Kodak, and later Cellco Partnership. The team will retain the color scheme. Where 'Marlboro Penske' appeared on the side of the cars, 'Team Penske' replaced it. Although "Marlboro" does not sponsor Team Penske, Philip Morris USA is still Team Penske's main sponsor, and the Penske team's new name, Penske Championship Racing, reflects the Cellco Partnership sponsorship. (The Penske Championship Racing name was adopted to evade NASCAR's ban on wireless telephone advertising; Cellco's team is marketed as Verizon Championship Racing.)

Marlboro also sponsor Holden Dealer Team from 1974 through to 1984. The Marlboro branding gave rise to some of Australia's most prominently recognizable race cars such as the L34 and A9X Torana, as well as the famous VK Group C "Big Banger" Commodore of Peter Brock and Larry Perkins Bathurst winning fame. As well as this, in Motorcycling Grand Prix, Marlboro sponsored the Kenny Roberts Yamaha team in 500cc as well as one of his former riders, Wayne Rainey's team in the 250cc class. Marlboro also sponsored Pons Racing's Hondas in the 1993 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season.[12] As a result of their sponsorship, Marlboro decals on race replica bikes became one of the most popular decal kits that were available. Marlboro nowadays sponsors the Ducati MotoGP team whom Valentino Rossi rides for (and former team of Casey Stoner, the year he took his first MotoGP title), despite as of the 2009 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season, they are only allowed to brand the bikes at 1 round, in Qatar. The controversial barcode designed was recently removed by Ducati for the start of the French motorcycle Grand Prix in the 2010 season but the barcode remains on riders team gear. In January 2011, the Ducati Team presented a new logo for its racing team.

Marlboro also has a long history in rallying sponsorship, including with the factory World Rally Championship teams of Toyota (notably with Freddy Loix until the end of 1998), Mitsubishi (to whom Loix moved from 1999 until 2001, with the iconic livery remaining on successive Lancer Evolutions until the marque's temporary WRC withdrawal at the end of 2002), and Peugeot, from 2003 to 2005. From 2005 to 2007, GP2 Series team ART Grand Prix was also sponsored by Marlboro. Marlboro are generally credited as being among the most important of sponsors to the world of Formula 1 (and motor racing in general) in terms of the amount of financial backing given to various competitors. In mid-2006, special "racing editions" of Marlboro Red were sold in the UK, with a Ferrari-inspired design, although the Ferrari name and badge were not used. They also come in Menthols.


A Japanese packet of Marlboro Ice Blast. In addition to being a normal mentholated cigarette, the Ice Blast also contains a menthol capsule inside the filter that can be cracked open by the smoker at the desired moment.

Phillip Morris International markets cigarettes,[13] snus,[13] and Heatsticks under the Marlboro brand.[14] They come in the following varieties of flavor and packaging:

American cigarette varieties[edit]

  • Marlboro - box, 25's box, and soft pack
  • Marlboro 100's - box and soft pack
  • Marlboro Eighty-Threes - box
  • Marlboro 72's - box
  • Marlboro Red Label - box and soft pack
  • Marlboro Red Label 100's - box and soft pack
  • Marlboro Gold Pack - box, 25's box, and soft pack
  • Marlboro Gold Pack 100's - box and soft pack
  • Marlboro Gold Pack 72's - box
  • Marlboro Silver Pack - box
  • Marlboro Silver Pack 100's - box
  • Marlboro Silver Pack 72's - box
  • Marlboro Blend No. 27 - box and soft pack
  • Marlboro Blend No. 27 100's - box
  • Marlboro Virginia Blend - box
  • Marlboro Virginia Blend 100's - box
  • Marlboro Southern Cut - box
  • Marlboro Black - box
  • Marlboro Black 100's - box
  • Marlboro Edge - box
  • Marlboro Special Blend Red - box
  • Marlboro Special Blend Red 100's - box
  • Marlboro Special Blend Gold - box
  • Marlboro Special Blend Gold 100's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol - box and soft pack
  • Marlboro Menthol 100's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Green Pack 72's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Blue Pack - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Blue Pack 100's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Blue Pack 72's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Rich Blue - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Rich Blue 100's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Gold Pack - box and soft pack
  • Marlboro Menthol Gold Pack 100's - box and soft pack
  • Marlboro Menthol Silver Pack - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Silver Pack 100's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Blend No. 54 - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Blend No. 54 100's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Smooth - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Smooth 100's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Skyline - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Skyline 100's - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Black - box
  • Marlboro Menthol Black 100's - box
  • Marlboro NXT - box

British varieties[edit]

  • Marlboro Red
  • Marlboro Gold Original
  • Marlboro Gold Original 100's (Superkings)
  • Marlboro Gold Touch
  • Marlboro Silver
  • Marlboro Bright Leaf
  • Marlboro Bright Leaf Platinum
  • Marlboro White Menthol
  • Marlboro Ice Blast

International cigarette varieties[edit]

  • Marlboro Red
  • Marlboro Gold Touch
  • Marlboro Flavor Code
  • Marlboro Premium Black
  • Marlboro W Burst 5

American snus varieties[edit]


  • Marlboro Heatsticks are a heated tobacco product which produces a flavorful nicotine laden vapor. On June 26, 2014 Phillip Morris announced plans to introduce Heatsticks in cities in Italy and Japan.[14]

Marlboro in Canada[edit]

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.[15][16]

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".[15] Though PMI is expected to appeal, shortly after the ruling it began using the brand name "Rooftop" on packaging for the previously unbranded cigarettes.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo, ed. (2003). W.C. Privy's Original Bathroom Companion. St. Martin's Press. pp. 407–410. ISBN 0-312-28750-X. 
  2. ^ After Bans, Tobacco Tries Direct Marketing (audio on page)
  3. ^ John Wells (2010-01-06). "John Wells’s phonetic blog: Marlborough". Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  4. ^ Cameron, Douglas (2010). Cultural Strategy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-958740-7. 
  5. ^ USA Vs. Philip Morris 2006
  6. ^ Craver, Richard (2012-09-26). "Reynolds to offer more menthol versions of Pall Mall cigarettes". Winston-Salem Journal. 
  7. ^ "''Eurosport Yahoo News'', April 29, 2010". Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  8. ^ Jagger,Suzy; Watson, Rory, "Ferrari F1 barcode a ‘smokescreen for cigarette adverts’", The Times (London), April 29, 2010
  9. ^ "Ferrari removes bar code design from car". USA Today. May 7, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Le nouveau logo de Ferrari propice à polémique?'', January 28, 2011". Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  11. ^ "''Ferrari extends deal with tobacco company Philip Morris'', June 16, 2011". 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  12. ^ "History". Pons Racing. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ a b Felberbaum, Michael (June 26, 2014). "Philip Morris Int'l to Sell Marlboro HeatSticks". Richmond, Virginia: ABC News. AP. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Gauthier, Johanne (2012-06-29). "Marlboro Canada Limited v. Philip Morris Products S.A. (2012 FCA 201)". Federal Court of Appeal (Canada). Retrieved 2012-09-15. 
  16. ^ a b Krashinsky, Susan (2012-08-03). "Why Marlboro Country ends at the border". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-09-15. 

External links[edit]