Initially, Marlboro was considered a “mild as May” Ladies Cigarette. However, In 1955, the image of the Marlboro man was created to advertise the product to the broader public. It worked because, by the time the Marlboro Man went national in 1955, sales were at $5 billion, a 3,241% jump over 1954. Marlboro Man was the mold of masculinity. He was rugged, he rode animals, and he was a man who radiated masculine grit. Marlboro changed the advertisement industry as we know it.
To understand how they did it, ask yourself how often you look at an advertisement and reflect upon yourself? I don’t mean your situation or the condition of your appliances. I mean you. How often do you watch an advert about watches and observe the gleaming confidence of the sculpted models and can’t help but notice that you aren’t as confident as them and realize that you want their confidence? The models are usually careless, relax on boats, talk with elegance, and smile with pride. It’s improbable that you possess all these characters, and it is even more unlikely that you will ever achieve it, let alone accomplish all of this with a simple watch.
Yet you want to be in place of the model, and the advertisement continually zooms in on the watch to indirectly tell us that the watch is behind all this or is at least a small part of this. The link is always missing and yet we relate to the images on the screen. Smoking a Marlboro can’t summon a horse that you could ride. A Rolex cannot give you the respect from your peers, nor can it give you the sheer boost of confidence. Surely, a beautiful watch adds to your arsenal of confidence, but the central piece is much more complex, and a watch cannot suddenly lift you out of your insecurities. But the stamp remains on your mind. Buying a CocaCola doesn’t feel like buying a piece of diabetes, and the crippling financial burden that follows but rather reminds you of the family time and happiness depicted in the ads.
As humans, we don’t immediately think with logic. We would rather find an association with the products we see on the screen. Our brains are rather good at it. This is because we have a natural tendency to be attracted to anything that sounds, looks, or feels familiar. Funky music is played over and over again when we go to buy at a fast-food restaurant; however, an orchestra plays when we go to a high-end one. This association is put there intentionally to make you feel less guilty about spending on something without utility.
The moral of the story is that We, as consumers, should want to be efficient with the purchases that we make. Hence thinking twice before buying something after consuming these ads is incredibly essential. These ads not only empty your pockets but also leave you with sadness once you realize that the Rolex didn’t buy much confidence. And that you are stuck in vicious hedonic cycle of consumption. Every time we buy these things, we must learn to play different music at the back of our heads. And that music must be selected through rationale. Buying a pair of sneakers might not be the best if you want more friends and partners, but they might be right for the health of your foot. Playing a relaxing piano in your head would convey the sense of health and comfort, which will leave you satisfied in the long run, rather than playing the funky youthful jazz that Nike plays in its advertisements. Nike designed it to leave you hungry. This is perhaps the most helpful thing that I learned from the Marlboro man. Whenever I see a pack of Marlboro, I don’t think of cowboy hats and country music, I think of Ramesh who died of cancer and my head plays “See you again by Wiz Khalifa.”
Author – Sirish Joshi
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