Advertising and Promotional Communication Term Paper

Total Length: 2001 words ( 7 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 25

Page 1 of 7

Embedded Communication in Advertising

"There is no evidence that advertising can get people to do things contrary to their self-interest." -- JIB Fowles, in Advertising's Fifteen Basic Appeals

"Good advertising does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief." -- Leo Burnett, Advertising Executive and Creator of the Marlboro Man

"The ability to attract new smokers and develop them into a young adult franchise is key to brand development." 1999 Philip Morris report

When the preceding collection of opinions regarding the influence of modern advertising are considered in conjunction with the iconic advertising image shown above, it becomes quite clear that, much like advertising itself, forming an informed position on this ubiquitous aspect of modern marketing is simply a matter of perception and perspective (Belch 120). Corporate conglomerates and other private enterprises ascribe tremendous value to the persuasive power of advertising, bombarding the general public with television commercials, radio jingles, magazine spreads, newspaper inserts, and roadside billboards. In addition to these more overt forms of advertising, most modern companies also engage in subtle attempts to generate demand for their services or manufactured goods, employing indirect marketing tactics such as product placement within popular films or television programs. While the technique of attaching celebrity endorsers to certain products associated with their image is an American advertising staple, entertainment conglomerates like Disney are increasingly inserting recognizable products directly into traditionally artistic forms of mass media (Okazaki 209). The vast majority of objective media analysts agree that this form of advertising "manipulates people psychologically to buy things they can't afford by promising greater sex appeal, improved social status, or other unrealistic expectations" (Bovee and Arens 685). While this exploitative practice may be considered permissible from the purveyor of household goods, clothing, or other staples of modern living, society has grown understandably wary of companies which choose to utilize product placement and other indirect forms of advertising to compel the consumption of harmful goods like alcohol and tobacco. By examining a pair of exceptionally objectionable advertisements used by Phillip Morris USA, the largest manufacturer of tobacco products in the country and the company responsible for creating the Marlboro Man, one of advertising's most infamously effective marketing icons.

Throughout history a number of people whether real or fictional have become indelibly embedded into the popular culture, and advertising agencies have always been cognizant of the opportunity to exploit the public's admiration in the name of expanding market share. Legendary entertainers like Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Michael Jackson are even able to advertise effectively in a posthumous fashion, as their natural charisma and ability to inspire loyalty create an enduring link between them and their fans (Leiss 34). Most widely known endorsers in our popular culture did not seek to become icons or significant historical figures; society simply developed an affinity for them, and their message, inventions or ideas. In some cases significant people in our popular culture were invented through the act of imagination, such as the patriotic paternal figure Uncle Sam or the inspirational forbearer to modern feminism Rosie the Riveter, while others like Mickey and Minnie Mouse were created simply for the sake of amusement. The most insidious advertising icons, however, were created with the diabolical intention to distort impressionable minds and inspire false loyalties to dangerous and detrimental products (Schudson 72). As a study conducted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute observed in 1987, "in the face of public concern about the health hazards of smoking and the decreasing per capita smoking rates, the findings of these studies suggest that the tobacco industry has attempted to increase cigarette consumption among populations that have traditionally been light smokers (e.g., women and youth)" (Altman, Slater, Albright & Maccoby 95).

Image of a Marlboro billboard taken from the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker.

The Marlboro Man and Joe Camel, characters who were created as a way to distract consumers from the serious health consequences associated with chronic cigarette smoking, are considered by advertising experts to be among the most effective tools ever devised by tobacco companies, a consensus which is confirmed by the fact that "a 1991 study found & #8230; that Joe Camel was more recognizable among 5 and 6-year-olds than Mickey Mouse" (James and Olstad 2). By targeting children and adolescents with mascots like the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel, as well as through overt product placement in major motion pictures throughout the 1980's and early 1990's, major tobacco companies, including Phillip Morris and R.J Reynolds, created a way to ease the smoker's mind and, perhaps worst of all, to ingratiate themselves into the minds of children whose parents smoked, while creating globally recognized advertising icons that propelled tobacco into the realm of billion dollar industries.
Despite the claim made by Fowles that advertising is incapable of compelling people to act against their own self-interest (556), tobacco companies stumbled upon an incredibly effective and efficient way to encourage the American public to knowingly purchase and ingest a poisonous product.

The tragic case of Joe Camel illustrates the argument of many media critics who assert that modern advertising is a "pernicious influence in contemporary society that takes unfair advantage of our children" (Bovee and Arens 686). Originally instituted as a cigarette endorser by the R.J. Reynolds Company in 1987, Joe Camel was perhaps the first advertising icon used to persuade young consumers to purchase a product that they were actually legally prohibited from using. R.J. Reynolds's tobacco-loving mascot was widely considered to be much more controversial than The Marlboro Man because Joe Camel is an animated cartoon, which is obviously a medium enjoyed mostly by children. This cartoon was designed to embody "coolness" of smoking cigarettes, often appearing in a suave leather jacket and dark sunglasses that made him appealing to rebellious teenagers (Messaris 19). While those responsible for the Joe Camel advertising campaign refuted criticism and maintained that the mascot was aimed at adult smokers, a comprehensive review of the available research concluded that "longitudinal studies consistently suggest that exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion is associated with the likelihood that adolescents will start to smoke" (Lovato, Lynn, Stead & Best 348). For parents, politicians and the media this revelation made one thing strikingly clear: R.J. Reynolds wanted children to think it was OK to smoke because a cartoon camel smoked as well. R.J. Reynolds is one of the largest and most powerful tobacco companies in the world and they created a cartoon as a way to advertise to kids directly, branding this cartoon image in their brains permanently to create a new generation of smokers, all for the pursuit of profit.

Image of a Camel cigarettes taken from the 1989 children's film Honey I Shrunk the Kids

When the Phillip Morris tobacco company enlisted the services of The Marlboro Man, a rugged cowboy usually seen in natural settings with his trusty horse and cigarette, they successfully harnessed the immense marketing power of appealing to impressionable young minds. The Marlboro Man's decades-long reign as the most prominent tobacco advertising figure attempted to transform a cigarette brand once associated with femininity into a viable masculine alternative for the male market (O'Donohoe 56). Leo Burnett, the marketing innovator and original creator of The Marlboro Man, did not fail in this attempt and Marlboro was repositioned from a feminized filtered cigarette to a masculine status symbol in just months (King, Reid, Moon, & Ringold 66). Despite the growing awareness as to the devastating health consequences faced by long-term smokers, the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel advertising campaigns conspicuously targeted towards the next generation of cigarette smokers, and this generation followed their parents into tobacco addiction because "cigarette advertising is inherently manipulative & #8230; and persuades individuals, particularly women and young people, to start smoking; causes existing smokers to smoke more frequently; keeps potential quitters from quitting the habit; and influences ex-smokers to resume smoking" (King, Reid, Moon, & Ringold 63).

By providing the physical embodiment of smoking's supposed appeal, Leo Burnett wanted to idealize smoking while making it not only acceptable, but making it the accepted and attractive thing to do. Given the statistical evidence regarding smoking rates among young people, it is certainly difficult to deny the influence that the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel had on tobacco usage in popular culture, especially when considering the total profit they earned within just two years. In 1955, it was estimated that Marlboro's sales were at $5 billion; in 1957 their sales had quadrupled to $20 billion (Altman, Slater, Albright & Maccoby 98). This type of advertising multiplied as other big tobacco companies created their own brand icons; however none of these topped The Marlboro Man in terms of cultural impact. In over forty years the Marlboro Man was played by three different actors, all of whom enjoyed smoking the same cigarettes they were compensated to publically represent. The tragic irony is that all three of these actors died of lung cancer due to their tobacco habits.

This sort….....

Have Any Questions? Our Expert Writers Can Answer!

Need Help Writing Your Essay?