I have the most trouble with is targeting blacks specifically.
I don't think we should make a specific pitch to them . .
. I think a better strategy would be to let Kool and Newport
fight for black males while we preempt the white market."
(from a 1984 Philip Morris secret document)
The Marlboro Mild Campaign
Morris piloted its new Marlboro Mild menthol brand in two
test cities in 1999 year with two different scenarios. In
Pittsburgh, a city that has a Black population of approximately
26%, the focus was on the general population with a skew toward
the college-aged, trendy set. In Atlanta, unlike Pittsburgh,
the marketing of Marlboro Mild was clearly oriented toward
the Black community, but also with a skew toward the college-aged,
citizens in both cities organized into grassroots groups to
protest the test-marketing by Philip Morris of its new mentholated
cigarette brandMarlboro Milds. The groups were the Atlanta
Campaign Against Marlboro Milds in Fulton County, GA and the
Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Marlboro Milds in Allegheny
County, Pennsylvania. Both groups used the acronymn CAMM.
Simultaneous news conferences
opposing the test-marketing of Marlboro Milds occurred on
Monday, October 18 at 10:00 a.m. in both Atlanta and Pittsburgh.
In both cases, the National Association of African Americans
for Positive Imagery (NAAAPI) and The Onyx Group provided
support in coalition-building efforts designed to recruit
African Americans into tobacco prevention and control activities,
using the threat of Marlboro Mild as the focal point.
to the 1990 census, Atlanta was second only to Detroit among
major cities with a concentration of African Americans, with
a Black population of nearly 70%. Atlanta also has a cluster
of Black colleges -- a prime audience for tobacco marketers
with the increased emphasis on restricting sales to persons
under 18. It is not clear whether the dual focus of the Marlboro
Mild test market was designed to test two different marketing
strategies or whether Pittsburgh's general market focus was
as a deliberate smoke-screen so that Philip Morris could disguise
what it was doing in Atlanta. It is also possible that the
uproar against the target-marketing of a new mentholated cigarette
caused Philip Morris to revise its original plans.
idea of targeting African American communities with menthol
cigarette brands is not new. In 1990, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
Company tried to introduce a menthol cigarette brand called
Uptown cigarettes, but was unable to do so because of community
pressure. Uptown was followed in 1995 by a menthol brand called
"X" in Boston. Two years later, there was a national
roll-out of Camel menthols. These efforts were unsuccessful
because the communities across the country mobilized to prevent
the new menthol brands from getting a foothold and addicting
Black youth. Menthol brands have special risks for smokers.
a few months it became apparent that in the Pittsburgh test
market, Philip Morris was not using Black media to promote
Marlboro Mild and the new brand was not being placed exclusively
in the Black community. The only indication of a difference
from the standard Marlboro advertising was that in Marlboro
Mild advertisements, the cowboy was no longer obviously White
but was of an indeterminate race, either because the face
and hands weren't showing or because the cowboy was entirely
in silhouette with no features visible.
response, the advocates in Pittsburgh regrouped and developed
a more generic tobacco prevention and control project for
the local African American population, using the energy and
organization that had been generated around the Marlboro Mild
initiative. The coalition changed its name to the "Allegheny
County Coalition Against Tobacco Use" and was awarded
a maxi-grant on February 1, 2000, by the Pennsylvania Tobacco
Prevention Network (PTPN) to conduct a clean indoor air campaign
targeted toward the African American community. That campaign,
"Not in Mama's Kitchen" originally was developed
by the African American Tobacco Education Network (AATEN)
Atlanta, the situation has been quite different. In a dramatic
switch for Philip Morris' Marlboro brand, advertisements for
Marlboro Mild have appeared in Atlanta mass media designed
to reach African American college students and young adults.
Marlboro Mild cigarettes and point-of-purchase advertising
can be found throughout Atlanta's Black communities. As a
result, the Campaign Against Marlboro Mild has continued its
grassroots organizing activities and largely through efforts
led by local Black clergy, the Campaign has convinced several
local tobacco retailers in the Black community to remove Marlboro
Mild from store shelves..
Morris has now rolled Marlboro Mild out as a national brand
but without overt targeting to African Americans in the advertisements
or special advertising in Black publications. However, African
American tobacco prevention coalitions are remaining alert
to any efforts of the company to target Black youth.
Hopes to Extinguish Sales of New Cigarette,"
by Ervin Dyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 19, 1999.