You're the Target: Global Marlboro Campaign Found to Target Teens

"Philip Morris International claims it doesn't market to kids, but the evidence in this report shows otherwise." — Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

A report issued March 12, 2014, by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other international public health organizations exposes how Philip Morris International’s (PMI) ‘Be Marlboro’ marketing campaign uses themes and images that appeal to youth across the globe. The campaign has expanded to more than 50 countries despite being banned by a German court for targeting teens and generating similar complaints in other countries.

The report, titled "You’re the Target," was issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Alliance for the Control of Tobacco Use Brazil, Corporate Accountability International, Framework Convention Alliance, InterAmerican Heart Foundation, and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.

The report calls on PMI to immediately end the 'Be Marlboro' campaign. It also calls on governments to enact comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in accordance with the international tobacco control treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Currently, 177 countries are party to the treaty.

PMI, the world’s largest non-governmental tobacco company, is based in the United States. Marlboro is the world’s best-selling cigarette brand.


Slideshow: Examples of the Be Marlboro Campaign
Around the World

Click the images for a larger view or download a complete set of images.


The report details how PMI uses marketing tactics in its 'Be Marlboro' campaign that are effective at reaching youth and have been banned in many countries.

These include advertising on billboards, bus stops and outside retail stores that associate Marlboro with risk-taking, exploration, freedom and defying authority. Ads feature images of attractive young people partying, falling in love, playing music and engaging in adventure sports such as snowboarding and surfing.

Other marketing tactics include music event sponsorships; beach tours in Tunisia and Latin American countries where contests, concerts and parties are used to entice young people to provide consumer information; online promotional videos that feature young, attractive people partying and going on adventures, including a hip-hop themed party in Saudi Arabia; and interactive promotional booths at shopping malls in Ukraine that feature large cigarette displays and promotional videos.

Tobacco use — the world’s leading cause of preventable death — kills nearly six million people worldwide each year and is projected to kill one billion people this century if current trends continue. Every day, 80,000 to 100,000 young people around the world become addicted to tobacco. Without urgent action by governments around the world, more than 250 million children and young people alive today will die from tobacco-related diseases.