Marlboro Man Sneaking Into Unregulated Internet Space

The old Marlboro Man

The Marlboro man is coming — but he’s a different Marlboro man, a devious one who is sneaking into unregulated internet space starting next year.

Preproduction is now under way for a new Marlboro cigarette video and print campaign that will be shot in Buenos Aires and shown in North America and the United Kingdom, according to casting sources.  Notices say that the makers of the new campaign want to sign two actors who look like they “would be part of the Burning Man movement” (wonder how Burning Man participants would feel about that association) for the campaign.  They’re thinking, we hear, of  a cool iconoclastic musician type in the mold of a young Mick Jagger, or a new age sort you’d find on the Europop scene. 

Neither actor, they stress, should harken back to the old style rugged, outdoorsy Marlboro Man image.  The spots are expected to debut in April.  But where?

With the United States and roughly 170 other countries around the globe, the World Health Organization, Google and Microsoft all in agreement when it comes to barring cigarette advertising, you’ve got to know the folks at Philip Morris are getting craftier and craftier about getting their message out.  In fact, this looks like the boldest step yet in internet cigarette advertising.  It’s been creeping in — subtly — especially as social media have grown.  As reported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, there are a wide assortment of cigarettes and chewing tobacco products of which Facebook users can become “fans,” for instance.  Tobacco products and sellers have found followers on Twitter as well.  And there has been a proliferation of tobacco imagery on YouTube, some uploaded by tobacco companies, despite YouTube’s policy that allows users to flag inappropriate content.  For each video removed, apparently, several more appear.

Another vintage ad

With today’s sophisticated marketing technology that allows precision targeting, ads are being aimed at segments of the public that will potentially welcome them — while those of us who are antagonistic to tobacco ads (parents, for example, and people whose loved ones died of smoking-related cancers) will never see them.  As the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids notes, children and teens could easily be among those who get a full gust of cigarette advertising in the face.