Tobacco firms’ subliminal messages

Philip Morris, the manufacturer of Marlboro, believes in “experiential” marketing and has created a team to transform Britain’s bars and music events, in an attempt to boost its profits.

These “installations” experiments created lounge areas by placing red sofas in front of video screens showing scenes redolent of Wild West ‘Marlboro country’ to convey the essence of the cigarette brand while circumnavigating sponsorship bans.


One plan the company experimented with was the use of chill out smoking areas. These featured a sofa shaped like a bath, to give the impression it was an area in which smokers could relax, suggesting cigarettes help people deal with stress.

“Philip Morris would pay for the installation – known as the Marlboro Motel – to be erected. That way the company could say they were paying for the right to sell cigarettes rather than sponsoring an event,” said one person familiar with the installations.

“The tobacco firms are looking to create extensive “design languages” in bars and clubs and other venues through the use of particular types of furniture or material which will make people think of their brands,” said one industry insider.

Experts said such marketing was becoming increasingly popular. “The more subtle the message, the more likely it is to be accepted,” said Gerard Hastings, at the Institute for Social Marketing and Centre for Tobacco Control.

Via The Observer.