The Marlboro Oral History and Documentation Project is the result of a two-year effort supported in part by a gift from Philip Morris, Inc. Sixty oral history interviews and a variety of television commercials, print advertising, promotional materials, packaging, and industry publications were gathered to document Marlboro cigarette advertising. The bulk of the collection focuses on the period between 1954 and 1986, and examines the "Marlboro man", "Settle Back" and "Marlboro Country" campaigns. The collection is a rich source of information for researchers interested in advertising and marketing history, issues of smoking and health, and the export of both tobacco and American cultural symbols abroad.
The core of the collection is a series of interviews conducted during 1985-1987 by Dr. Scott Ellsworth, an independent scholar and oral historian. The broad range of interviewees included executives of Philip Morris, advertising agency personnel from Leo Burnett, photographers, production staff, sales and marketing personnel, and Marlboro cowboys.
Twenty-seven interviews were conducted overseas, in Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and West Germany. Conducted primarily with Marlboro licensee and affiliate staff, the interviews focus on the marketing and advertising history of Marlboro in the six nations. These interviews and others conducted with executives of Philip Morris International in New York City also address the history of Marlboro advertising in Africa, the Middle East, China, Eastern Europe and elsewhere in Europe and Latin America.
The interviews cover events from the 1930s through the 1980s. They focus on the theory and development of Marlboro advertising, its content and creation, and its modifications over the years. The foreign interviews also discuss the structure of the local cigarette marketplace, marketing and advertising techniques, and the use and modification of Marlboro advertising for different cultures.
Finding aids to the oral histories include abstracts of each interview indicating the major topic discussed, a cumulative index to personal names and topics in the interviews, and brief biographical and scope notes.
Dthe collection is divided into seven series.
Series 1: Research Files, 1943-1987
Series 2, Interviewee Files, 1986
Series 3; Oral History Interviews, 1986
Series 4: Advertising Materials, 1926-1986
Series 5: Promotional items and packaging, 1926-1986
Series 6: Publications and Research Material, 1960-1988
Series 7: Travel Slides Generated by Project Team, 1926-1986
Biographical / Historical:
The history of Marlboro cigarettes offers insight into one of the great advertising and marketing success stories of the 20th century. Marlboro cigarettes were marketed from the Victorian era through the first half of this century as a women's cigarette, with tag-lines that aimed to appeal to female smokers, such as "Marlboro - Mild As May." In 1955, two transformations occurred which would affect both profitability and brand recognition: the addition of an integrated filter and the re-invention of the market through the debut of the "Marlboro Man" advertising campaign. The original Marlboro Man campaign featured close-up images of all kinds of men using the product -- the cowboy was one, along with lifeguards, sailors, drill sergeants, construction workers, gamblers and other types suggestive of a masculine spirit and rugged independence. By 1963, the "Marlboro Country" campaign began. This campaign focused on the cowboy and his symbolic canon: boots, hats, horses, and western landscapes. By the mid-1980s, Marlboro was the best-selling brand in the United States and the world, and the Marlboro cowboy was among the most widely recognized of American cultural symbols. Sold in over 180 nations, both the cigarettes and the ad campaign had become a global phenomena.
The collection was donated to the Archives Center by Philip Morris, Inc. in 1986.
The materials in the Marlboro Collection are made available for research according to the established practices and principles of the Archives Center and the National Museum of American History.
In making these materials available for research, the Smithsonian Institution makes no claims of ownership of the copyrights or related rights. All responsibility for infringement of legal authorship rights and or copyright is assumed by the user of the materials. In addition, the user indemnifies and holds harmless the Smithsonian Institution for all claims, actions, damages, judgments and expenses that may result from use of these materials.
In addition, the donor has imposed restrictions on reproduction or broadcast of collection materials by third parties. The reproduction or broadcast of print ads and television commercials in the collection is subject to prior written consent from:
Vice President, Marketing
Philip Morris International
120 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017