LEADING NATIONAL ADVERTISERS: CIGARETTE ADVERTISING IN 'NEW MARKETING ERA': RULES FORCE STRATEGY REVAMP, MAY BURN BRANDS THAT CAN'T ADAPT

By Published on .

The state attorneys general agreement with the major tobacco marketers to sharply limit cigarette advertising leaves in doubt the industry's future as a top ad category. Even if Congress rejects the pact, similar ad curtailments would likely take root.

"It'll begin a whole new marketing era," says Don Stuart, partner at Cannondale Associates.

Among strictures, the agreement disallows continuity marketing programs (Marlboro Miles, Camel Cash); eliminates collateral materials (apparel with tobacco brand names); bans outdoor advertising and limits point-of-sale promotions to behind the counter containing only b&w text; disallows event sponsorship; a forbids people in print ads.

In short, the agreement will redefine completely the way the volumes of dollars now spent on tobacco marketing and promotion will shake out.

"I would think that based on the cost structures [of the pending agreement] marketers will prune. The weaker brands will not be as supported as strongly," says Paul Kelly, president of Silvermine Consulting.

MORE LOOSE DOLLARS

But one veteran tobacco watcher doesn't agree. "The more difficult they make it to market, the more dollars tobacco marketers will have to spend," says Davenport & Co. analyst Jack Maxwell. "It happened with radio and TV. When they stopped using that [media], more money went to print."

The issue also may not be how much is spent but where it's spent. Mr. Kelly says he expects more in-store marketing in tobacco-only stores where, because patrons must be age 21 or over, it's believed A new*era

restrictions would be the most lax.

Brands likely to be most supported will be those that now have campaigns that can easily translate to a people-less creative strategy. Philip Morris seems best-positioned: Marlboro ads show western images; Virginia Slims plays on women's lib without women; Benson & Hedges cigs slouch in chairs and hammocks.

The No. 2 marketer, R.J. Rey- nolds Tobacco Co., may have a tougher time. With Joe Camel now sidelined, it's hoping its new stylized Camel appearing in outdoor boards without any copy is strong enough to be associated with Camel in the new marketing environment.

Winston's new no-additives campaign themed, "No bull," from Long Haymes Carr, Winston-Salem, N.C., is heavy on b&w type and light on photos.

STRONG TO SURVIVE

Lorillard's Newport might also be well-positioned, with its "Pleasure" theme. Although the images of fun-loving men and women wouldn't be allowed, the word itself, long associated with Newport, would.

Studies chronicled by the Tobacco Institute trade group have shown that in countries where tobacco advertising has been eliminated, market shares freeze. If that were the case in the U.S., it would leave Philip Morris and Marlboro

In this article:
Most Popular