Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Extracts from evidence submitted to the Committee from Advertising Agencies (TB 37-40)

TBWA Simons Parker Ltd (TB 37)

Why are we advertising?

  To strongly evoke core Marlboro values (individuality, freedom, real and America) by continuation of "Marlboro Country" campaign.

Who are we talking to?
Primary:18-24 males, student and non-student, into making a definite statement (rock, cult, bikes, cars)
Secondary:Older, established smokers (you're doing the right thing)
Consideration:Lights target smokers (Lights is "Marlboro, not Reds")

How do we want to change what people think, feel or know?

  We want to engage their aspirations and fantasies—"I'd like to be there, do that, own that".

What is the most powerful thing we can say to achieve this? (The proposition.)

  Escape to Marlboro Country.

What is the best way of supporting this proposition (facts, emotions, values).

  Strongly conjure up Marlboro core values: individuality and freedom and real and America.

Practical Considerations:

    —  Ads must be a continuation of the current "Marlboro Country" campaign.

    —  "Marlboro Country" is as much a state of mind as a particular place. We need to focus more on contemporary "on the road"/"passing through"/"Road Movie" images than "stuck in the middle of nowhere" images.

    —  Ads that make a comment/have an attitude work best.

    —  Need for a number of executions with Reds bias ie Can't stand the heat—harsher, more individual executions.

    —  Usual ASA restrictions.

    —  20 executions.


  Given that we had only four groups, there was quite a lot of diversity across the sample:

    —  Very media literate, trendy girls and lads in London.

    —  "Loaded" lads and Glamour girls in Manchester.

  However, there was still a very clear theme that in an ideal world, cigarette ads and in particular Marlboro, should not have packs in.

  Having packs is seen as lazy, retrograde and boring.

  There are still some instances where there is greater permission to show packs (new brands or variants—Marlboro Mediums).

  Having said this, it is possible to use packs within the Marlboro treatments if treated subtly—consumers can live with it.


  Cigarette advertising was very much seen as a special case in which it was particularly negative to display the pack:

    —  Modern cigarette ads don't need the pack.

    —  Cigarette packs are such daily paraphanalia that it's boring to show them.

    —  Overtly selling is worse as prompt health concerns.

  It was very clear that since the Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut work over the years that the absence of packs is both well understood and expected.

  To not show the pack is seen as "clever" as there is a reward for understanding the device and working out the brand (although this may in fact be fairly easy).

  Conversely, showing the pack was seen as not very "clever":

    —  Showing no thought—dull/boring.

    —  Old fashioned.

    —  Foreign.

    —  Uninvolving—see the pack/brand and "ignore" the rest of the execution.


Regular Buyer Profiles

  The only consumer data available within the market is three years old and hence, it is perhaps unwise to draw too many solid conclusions from the data as the structure and importance of the 10s pack sector has changed. Although, the main patterns are unlikely to have dramatically altered and hence, the BJM data from 1994 should provide some insight into the current situation.

  What must be highlighted is that the data relates to the regular buyers of 10s packs of cigarettes. It is likely that a high number of people will participate within the market on an irregular basis and we can only hypothesize as to the importance of regular buyers versus irregular buyers in the 10s pack market.

  The regular buyers of tens tend to be younger and slightly more down market smokers than the total market, the key bias is towards the young adult smoker where we see one in five young adult smokers buying a 10s pack regularly and, they account for 43 per cent of regular 10s pack buyers. In addition, and not surprisingly, the 10s pack buyers tend to be light smokers with 77 per cent smoking between 1-12 cigarettes a day. Interestingly, the market is relatively evenly split between the sexes; if anything there is a male bias.

  The relationship between regular buying of tens and light consumption is not surprising, peoples primary reason for purchasing a tens pack may be to restrict/control their consumption. In addition, bearing in mind this correlation, the bias towards young adult smokers is understandable as they are generally lighter smokers. However, this bias towards the young adult smoker is quite pronounced. This bias probably explains, in part, the reason why the 10s market is skewed towards premium brands. Equally, it may provide some indication of why the trading pattern of 10s packs is more skewed towards the Independent Trade sectors.

  The higher penetration of regular 10s buying amongst young adult smokers may be a function of the greater acceptability of 10s packs by this age group of smokers and the fact that they are more image conscious. As the lay down prices of cigarettes have increased, younger adult smokers may have down traded to a 10s pack of a premium brand or, chosen to buy a premium 10s pack when they entered the market, rather than buying into a cheaper 20s pack of an economy brand.

  Whilst the core 10s market (three years ago) is orientated towards young adult smokers the role of older smokers is still important to the 10s pack market. Lay down prices may also be a key influence to an older/down market smoker, however the reducing social acceptability of smoking and greater limitations on public smoking may also be key influences (this is likely to be true for the young adult smoker as well).

  If lay down price has been a driving factor behind the growth of 10s pack purchasing then we can expect this market to continue to grow for this reason alone. Availability of key brands in this format will become increasingly important, particularly if the brand is geared towards the young adult smoker market.


  1.  Understanding the u35s lifestyle and attitudes is central to this project. Young smokers choices are driven by:

    —  Smoking as part of a social, out of home lifestyle.

    —  Peer group conformity.

    —  General attraction to image brands and trendiness.

    —  Self-indulgency—need for taste.

  2.  Respondents held no conception of an "American" sector of the market nor did they ever consider country of origin.

  Existing American brand (eg Camel, Lucky Strike, Winston), American imagery and American taste have low spontaneous appeal.

  3.  While Marlboro Reds are American, male, outdoors in image, Marlboro Lights are not perceived as overtly American and they occupy a unique positioning in the market.

Lights image is: International, young, trendy, his 'n hers, city-oriented.

  4.  The success of Marlboro Lights derives from its being:


    —  "cool", everybody's smoking it in bars and clubs image;

    —  The Diet Coke of cigarettes;

    HEAVY PROMOTION AND TARGETING of three core groups

    —  Students, Young working, city career types.




    —  More flavour for much the same tar.

  5.  Initial reactions to the concept of an American blend were luke-warm whether new brand or range extension—respondents did not feel there was a gap or a need.

  6.  Winston Lites was perceived as a new brand and American Import, this was not welcomed. Pack communication was of a heavy, male brand closer to Camel Original and Marlboro Reds than Lights.

  7.  There was no gap for either range extension when perceived as brand (rather than flavour blend) levering off American identification/symbols/or American youth.

  8.  The opportunity is about more taste in lights, cooler Image and addressing B&H/Silk Cut weaknesses among u35s, not about introducing another American name to rival Marlboro lights.

  9.  The two test routes were roughly equal in appeal for totally different reasons—and B&H remained more male, with Silk Cut more female.

  10.  Of the two brands, Silk Cut is better able to attack the Marlboro Lights position of aspirational lifestyle brand. It has potential to overcome its weak taste image and create some man appeal without eroding the parent brand image. It is worth further discussion.


  Since last year there have been few significant changes in terms of the image and perceptions of cigarette brands amongst mainstream and style conscious individuals aged between 18-30. However, there are some shifts in perceptions which are documented in this report.

  The Marlboro family's strong and appealing credentials remain for young people, particularly those who are style conscious and looking for something a bit out of the ordinary. Moreover, since last year, these credentials are inflitrating more into the mainstream, via Marlboro Lights.

  The British brand cigarettes continue to lose saliency (albeit at a slow pace) amongst young people, particularly the style conscious, but also among mainstream (more marked than last year).

  Silk Cut is still a natural choice for smokers looking to cut down or for a weaker flavours. However, Marlboro Lights are becoming a positive choice, increasingly becoming an "accepted" cigarette by most, seen everywere, not just being smoked by the style conscious. It provides a fuller flavour to the weaker Silk Cut, with only a marginal compromise in tar (6 mg vs 5 mg).

  The imagery surrounding Silk Cut remains unaspirational for the style conscious, and also more mainstream: it is female, glossy, chic and glamorous. User imagery has become the very young (starter cigarette) and middle aged (part time, health freak, not a real smoker). They are still perceived as very 80's, old hat, boring, bland and lacking in stylish cues. The box, however, is perceived as classy and almost classic in design.

  B&H, Regal, Embassy and Kensitas Club have much in common. Their appeal continues to lie in their British (Scottish), down to earth and unpretentious personalities. However, the connection with British youth culture (music, clubs, drugs) is beginning to wane and the rebellious, hedonistic and irreverent edge to their personality was far less prominent this year. This may have a strong link with the general wane in clubbing amongst young people, as bar culture seems to be increasingly popular.

  The most prominent imagery for these brands is male, for everyone, down to earth, "lads", young through old, unpretentious.

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Prepared 6 March 2000