Essay: Analysis of Marlboro advertising

Everyday life people would experience continuous advertising monopoly in today’s world which is not limited to the present culture but it has been one of the major influences to people’s lives in the past as well. These advertisements could be on television as commercials, magazine ads, billboards, signers, posters, radio stations and now it has now spread through World Wide Web earning millions to billions in co-operate world. Advertising now have become a continuous feed to human population all around the world.

In this particular paper magazine ad printed is a marketing text for the Marlboro brand of cigarettes. Cigarette ads have not been consistently approached as a marketing product photographically in the present as someone would expect with the huge market scale of cigarettes every day. The image above depicts significant number of elements. With employing semiotic approaches among the others. The text id somewhat has an ideological meaning in the society. Thus the text is more soft on the viewers and non-appealing to the viewer with all that grand photography which is appealing.
In the past few years use of advertising for products were in a huge decline. Which smoking tobacco subsequently would cause health problems that resulted government to take immediate precautions to promotions across all media. Which turned out to be events leading such as to an extended ban of cigarette promotions on television and radio. However during the past few decades the marketing of tobacco have been complicated trade with major health and medical conditions that risks one’s life by imposing to cigarettes. These materialistic precautions were widely introduced to the public on media as to quit smoking cigarettes but somehow the public were to educate on dangers of smoking had an impact on advertisers, not cigarettes as a product but public been a product themselves. The approach was to sell an image to public rather selling the actual product.
The text that focused on this advert is a vintage poster made in 1970’s advertisement for Marlboro cigarettes (appendix 1) which features a character the print ad named as Marlboro cow boy. The featured man in the picture is someone who’s riding a grand horse through water, the man is holding a cane and a whip. However it’s hard to tell what the background is tells us as the background is blurred and one can’t identify what’s behind the grand posture. But through the canvas of colours , the brown , white with a dust of snow smashed by the horse ride that coupled with what it seems to be is water tells us location is somewhat to be outdoors. The most significant and unseen fact is that lack of product placement in the photograph that’s been actually sold. The cow boy does not hold a cigarette in both hands nor in his mouth. And no images of a cigarette packet anywhere near the text. The only indication is that of the bold letters which read as ‘Marlboro’. In a much closer look it can be seen that the words ‘lbo’ from the actual text ‘Marlboro’ as the man in the image covering ‘lbo’ from the text. And then on the bottom right the print ad reads a health warning which is mandated by the government that states risks of smoking cigarettes.

When analysing further on a conventional point of view it is evident that the man in the photograph is a cowboy or more of an imitation. The most evident parts of the photograph is the physical appearance of the character and the features of his appearance compliments through his clothes and the cow boy hat, the things he holds in his hands such as the cane and the reigns justify this fact. Moreover to this the outdoor location signifies that more significantly that he is on top of a horse, it is evident that with someone with a little knowledge of advertising that costumes and the whole picture itself put together it produce a complete cowboy imagery.

On a more practical level the image of the cowboy is not just a man riding a horse but someone who has the complete control of the animal he’s riding, the viewers can see the cow boy controlling the horse by pulling of the horse and directing the animal’s head to a certain direction which defines the man is not just positioned on top of a horse but has complete control over a wild beast and the ability to tame this animal on such settings which reveals certain level of masculinity. In terms of the text ‘Marlboro’ but in the image it read as ‘Mar***bo’ which is a tactical approach to the public. And it clarifies iconology theory. Majority of the people do still can identify the ‘Marlboro Macho’ on top of the horse that can even be seen on ‘Marlboro’ cigarettes. But with the current actor who is ‘Marlboro’ man is now changed over the years in ‘Marlboro’ campaigns.

The ultimate outcome of the text ‘Marloboro’ defined as intrinsic level in iconology. And the in the most basic and a more simplistic way as the Ad depicts it is a man on a horse in the open. Viewers and customers of this product can trace and analyse that the man in the horse is a cowboy in outdoors. But the true intentions in this image can be read as and conflict the argument of lack of product placement with placing an image of a strong poster of a man who defined in the ‘Marlboro’ ad as a rugged cow boy. The true visualization of this product is very prominent and at the same time the actual tobacco product that should have been advertised but due to controversial series of health warnings and health risks as a solution the advertisers approached to sell a real cow boy image associated with the product which by means that it can be achieved by the consumers by using this product.

This ad was an idea of Leo Burnett a marketing company who used ‘Marlboro’ tobacco product with a Cow Boy. From a more traditional approach to selling this product to women but since the it appeared soft and weak posture and as to it was men who really enjoyed ‘Marlboro’. Which then made the marketing company to upscale their target consumers by inventing a masculine symbol that is a fully rugged Cow Boy.

When analysing the text on a semiotic approach the main protagonist the cow boy can be breakdown to series of symbols. One can assume that the signs does have more of an arbitrary approach whereas signified is more of an element that has more intent towards the ad. The sign of the cow boy indicate that the figure of the cow boy man is more appealing, as the male symbolisation is much heavier than a female posture for many reasons. On a more close look its evident what kind of a feeling it generates towards it consumers. The colouring of the cow boy shirt with red makes an assumption of pure quality, the character taming an animal towards his direction is an assumption of power. Taming a wild beast and having been on top with a cane and whip signifies superiority. Even though the character who is taming this animal appears to be a horse but on a more deep look it appears as a stallion a symbol of grand, grace and strong strength and having said that its evident that the ad doesn’t represents cow boy but also taming a wile stallion in a wild location an outback of interest also can be seen through this image.
However not limiting to analyse of the symbols itself it is not just that intensify of the character and its purpose. Signs that are hidden though in the picture also says a lot in series of event that has some hard evidence in the image. When reading the text there are two palpable spray that’s emerging through stallion’s path do indicate a fast movement of the stallion which depict speed. And also the horses head coupled with left arm of the cowboy suggest that he is using extreme power and physical strength to keep the stallion on control.
The character in the image wants viewers to believe that the character who is projected in the ad is a strong personality that graced with masculinity which has a hidden body of Marlboro cigarettes, a myth of another lifestyle which according to the ad smoking Marlboro cigarettes can achieve its consumers satisfaction by living their life with power, control, and speed just by consuming certain product of cigarettes. However this theory have been proved further by the prominent sexuality within the barriers of this particular text, which is applicable to the text and image. Within the male consumers who wants to achieve that superior level of masculinity that has been promoted by ‘Marlboro Man’ where consuming Marlboro cigarettes but where as in terms of female smokers of this particular brand remained with the same brand through habit in regardless of marketing strategies. As to lack of interest going to the product by just looking at the character. Which has a low key approach.
When analysing all the facts above its evident that this particular tobacco advertisement of ‘Marlboro’ cigarettes can be considered as successful, as it has grown in to the male consumers with the male masculinity and the strong physique that’s in the image the ‘Marlboro Man’. The text speaks for itself the hidden meaning and the tone of the character, his way of life and the ways of he does things, the settings of the picture. Which all sums up his control and power, on a simplistic natural way of life. However the success of the advertisement does lacks the need to show any activities that involves smoking, cigarettes or the complete brand name but yet Marlboro have been a successful brand name in full and not just in advertising but in present movies as well the brand Marlboro holds a superior recognition in regards to product placement which one would think that how successful it is.
Moreover to this analyse the Marlboro campaign is a success, the text is a success but declining the hidden intentions of the image and just viewing the whole ad as a photographical master piece that one had in an exhibition or in an art gallery people would see it differently with that in mind the value of this photographical piece could deviate as well. The image however has a pleasing feeling and a sense which gives a more striking outcome of the complete image. Which is where another striking fault can be found the contrast of the horse thus far from the background. These two objects does not compliments the clarity of the character where the two elements aren’t linked strongly where it appear as two different entities which breaks the goal of the advertisement and the rhythm it represents. It breaks the feeling of the image, therefore it’s needless to say the focus of the image can be misjudged, for a far more solution to the image they could have come up with another idea where they could just have the ‘Marlboro cow boy’ attached to a blank screen, and then the background could fit in later, this is one of the flaws that felt in between the ‘Marlboro man’ and the background of the picture. As a marketing strategy the primary intention could be to draw the attention of its consumers into a focus. And then it could have been an image that can be enjoyed as a whole.
In conclusion this 1971 advertisement for ‘Marlboro’ is in fact an ideological tool, and can be seen most of the approaches are intact with iconology, which what resulted this text to be successful as a marketing text, where it stays in its pride. However the work have went into the ad campaign with all its attempts to overcome it as a product and sell it does loses some ability to stand out as a piece when analysing above facts.

Source: Essay UK -

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