|Produced by||Philip Morris USA, Philip Morris International|
It is made 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. 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 women's cigarette, based on the slogan "Mild As May". The name was taken from a street in London where PM's British factory was located. However, as early as 1885, a brand called "Marlborough" was already being marketed as a "ladies' favorite" by Philip Morris & Co. 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".
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.
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.
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, later known as the Marlboro man. From 1963 the television advertisements used Elmer Bernstein's theme from The Magnificent Seven.
In the late 1960s, Marlboro "Longhorn 100's" were introduced. Although color-coded with gold, they were full flavor cigarettes, not lights.
In order to comply with a 2006 court ruling in United States v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al., 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.
Marlboro is known for its association with motor racing. This started in 1972 with the sponsorship of Formula One team BRM who took one win at the Monaco Grand Prix. In 1973 and 1974 the cigarette giant backed Frank Williams Racing Cars team, whose cars were registered as Iso-Marlboro.
In 1974 Marlboro 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 Organization took over the team in 1981. Marlboro-sponsored McLaren 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, who died in an accident the following year, 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's drivers since 1973 (the brand appeared only on helmets and suits) but only in 1984 it became a minor sponsor on Ferrari's single-seaters; until then Enzo Ferrari allowed only technical suppliers brands to appear on his team cars. In 1993 Marlboro began to take over as the primary sponsor, and in 1997 became title sponsor as the team was officially named as Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.
In September 2005 Ferrari signed an extension of their sponsorship arrangement with Marlboro until 2011. This agreement came at a time when tobacco sponsorship had become wholly illegal in the European Union and other major F1 teams ended their relationships with tobacco companies. 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 estimated that in the period between 2005 and 2011 Ferrari received $1 billion from the agreement. Depending on the venue of races and the particular national laws, the Marlboro branding became largely subliminal in most countries.
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. In April 2008 Marlboro displayed explicit on-car branding on Ferrari for the last time, then permanently replaced with a variety of barcodes in place of it. Since then there were 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. The Ferrari team claimed the barcode was part of the car design, not an advertising message.
The controversial barcode design was removed by Ferrari for the start of the Spanish Grand Prix in the 2010 season but the barcode remained on drivers team gear. In January 2011, the Scuderia Ferrari presented a new logo for its racing team. This logo is considered by a specialised F1-website 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. The deal has been subsequently renewed for three more years, through 2018.
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.
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Marlboro entered the motorcycling grand prix in the seventies as personal sponsor of riders like Giacomo Agostini, Angel Nieto and Jarno Saarinen. In 1976 Marlboro backed Agostini's team who raced MV Agusta bikes with little factory support.
Since 1983 the cigarette brand sponsored the Yamaha 500cc works team, who was managed by Agostini until 1989 and then by Kenny Roberts until 1996. During that period the Japanese bikes won six World Championship and, as a result of their sponsorship, Marlboro decals on race replica bikes became one of the most popular decal kits that were available.
In the nineties Marlboro's livery also appeared on other bikes, especially the Hondas entered by Team Pileri (from 1992 to 1995), Pons Racing (in 1993) and Erv Kanemoto's team (in 1997 and 1998) who achieved the 1997 250cc World Championship with Max Biaggi.
Marlboro sponsors the Ducati Corse MotoGP team since 2003. Casey Stoner took his first MotoGP title in 2007. As of the 2009 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season they were only allowed to brand the bikes at one round, in Qatar, using the barcode in other races. The controversial barcode design was then removed by Ducati for the start of the French motorcycle Grand Prix in the 2010 season. In January 2011 the Ducati Team presented a new logo.
Other racing series
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.
Marlboro sponsorship in IndyCar dates back to 1986 when the livery appeared on the Emerson Fittipaldi's car entered by Patrick Racing. In 1990 Penske Racing hired Fittipaldi and started a 20 years-long association with Marlboro and its distinctive red and white livery. However, in the 2007 season Marlboro logos were replaced with 'Team Penske' but the team retained the color scheme as Philip Morris USA was still Penske's main sponsor. 2009 was the last year of the Penske-Marlboro association.
Marlboro has a long history in rallying sponsorship, including the factory World Rally Championship teams of Lancia (between 1972 and 1974), Mitsubishi (from 1999 to 2002), and Peugeot (from 2003 to 2005). The cigarette brand appeared on helmets and suits of some of the best rally drivers, being personal sponsor of Markku Alen, Timo Salonen, Juha Kankkunen, Miki Biasion and others. Between 1987 and 1992 Marlboro backed Carlos Sainz, appearing on his cars (Ford Sierra in 1987–88 and then Toyota Celica since 1989). In 1993 the cigarette brand started an association with Belgian rally driver Freddy Loix, who was racing for Opel in the Belgian rally championship. Between 1996 and 1998 Loix raced with Toyota Team Belgium in the WRC, carrying the Marlboro livery on his car. In 1999 he moved to Mitsubishi Ralliart works team, with the iconic livery remaining on successive Lancer Evolutions until the marque's temporary WRC withdrawal at the end of 2002.
Marlboro also sponsored the cars of Emirati rally driver Mohammed bin Sulayem and has sponsored a number of rallies including the Safari Rally (between 1982 and 1990), the Rally Argentina, the Rally of Lebanon, the Jordan Rally, and the UAE Desert Challenge.
Marlboro also sponsored 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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