"’The Era of Globalization’ is fast becoming the preferred term for describing the current times” (by Keith Porter1). We totally agree what the author said. People around the world are now more connected to each other. They communicate with each other through economies, societies and even culture aspects. And this phenomenon calls “Globalization”.
Seem globalization is becoming increasingly important to the organizations in the world. Today we are going to bring you to one of the successful globalized company--Marlboro.
Although killing people is generally not a good business practice, Marlboro seems to be having unbelievable success. From an unknown brand in 1955, Marlboro has steadily increased sales, being the “top selling brand in the U.S. and an all-time-best seller in the world,” in just 1975. Then, in 1989, it took hold of almost one-fourth of all cigarette sales, and today it remains “the world’s most profitable brand of non durable goods, surpassing even Coca-Cola!”(By Jessica Jaffe2)
Let's have a deep look of it!
Steps to Global
In WW2, Marlboro produced tobacco for the Army. So it got the popular support when the war was over. Afterward, Marlboro has established very well in the developed countries after WW2. But recently, smoking is largely suppressed in these developed countries, such as the ban of advertisement in the social media, ban of indoor smoking, etc. It largely hurts the revenue from these countries. So Marlboro turns the attention to the developing countries. It starts to launch a massive marketing campaign in these developing countries, such as Southeast Asia, China, Africa.
Slogan: Come to Marlboro Country
The word “country” has double meanings. One is the countryside of the West; the other is the nation, the America. If we stick to the second one, we can realize that the “country” implies the American identity so the advertisements try to construct an illusive American identity in their consumers. Moreover, it means that the products will be sold to the world. At the same time, remind others that Marlboro is an American brand.
Welcome to Marlboro Country
Marlboro is a famous brand of cigarette made by Philip Morris UA. Marlboro launched its first business in USA. In the early 1960s Philip Morris invented "Marlboro Country" and distilled their manly imagery into the rugged cowboys known as the "Marlboro Men". A cowboy, western landscape and red color reminded audience the Marlboro trademark. It led Marlboro to the global dominance.
Other than established its own imagery, Marlboro has sought to maximize global awareness of its product by sponsoring motor racing. For instance, Marlboro had sponsored Formula One in the past. Formula One has an image of dynamic, macho and international which potentially bring these image values to Marlboro. Now, Marlboro is sponsoring Team Penske in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series and adult cigarette smokers and trade partners will be invited by the Marlboro brand to IndyCar Series races around the country to support Team Penske.
Just like what Venture Republic mention that “Culture becomes a very crucial factor that determines the band’s success. Many global brands have dealt with cultural issues very well and have adopted their brands to suit the diverse cultural demands of different regions in which they operate.”(Venture Republic, Cross-cultural branding and leadership)Marlboro realize the importance of Culture difference, it try to identified core similarities in the lifestyles and needs of young consumers worldwide, such as independence, enjoyment, freedom, and comfort. It adopted standardized global marketing efforts, creating a central brand images and promotions, but allowing regional managers to create regionally appropriate individual advertisements and different taste if necessary. For example, Marlboro produces different type of cigarette for different markets with respect to tar, nicotine and nitrosamine content. It tried to balance the standardization with customization. And this strategy suit the diverse cultural demands of different regions in which it operates. It helped Marlboro successfully enters into different culture.
Get support from Alliance
Marlboro understands that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests. So it tried to avoid conflicts of interest for government officials and employees. PMI reports meeting with 2,800 government agencies and 8,000 government employees to promote its system for tracking and tracing cigarette products. Through these effort, Marlboro established relationship within the governments. For example, this year, Philippines customs authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PMI; Marlboro will presumably gain access to law enforcement personnel and customs data. 3
“Intercultural Communication” is always a complicated term. Thomas Friedman has claimed that “Intercultural communication theory, namely, our very understanding of culture, society, and communication.”(The Lexus and the Olive Tree, 1999). So, how Marlboro builds up its intercultural network, and satisfy different culture and society to achieve the goal of communication? Let have a look on it!Operation in the local factories
Marlboro sets up joint venture to manufacture the tobacco in different countries, usually the production is for local consumption and for export to the near regions. But the working cultures differ across different countries. Thus, it is quite impossible for the products will be homogenous in the worldwide due to the difference in working practices. According to the article addressed by SUSUMU YOSHIDA, 2002 "Few people realize the importance of training to training to overcome the communication barriers." (Globalization and Issues of Intercultural Communications). In order to solve this problem, Marlboro hires local people to be the manager in different factories, thus the managers can communicate better with the local workers. Local managers must have a better understanding in the local culture, background, value and norms. As a result, this can enhance the effectiveness of intercultural communication. For example, a Japanese manager will be hired instead of an American, it enable him to communicate better with the local Japanese workers.
Standardized production method
The working cultures are different in different countries. They have different working practices all over the world. For example, in some culture, some prefer a warmer working condition, and some prefer a cooler one. But the indoor temperature will affect the quality of the tobacco. So a set of standardized rule is set to ensure the products all over the world are more or less the same. These standard rules are applied to the production process ranging from conditioning, casing, cutting, drying, flavoring to blending. 5
Extensive research in the taste of customers
Since the culture and taste are quite different in the countries. So Marlboro, as a global company, tries to fit the needs of different taste. Thus, Marlboro conducted lifestyle studies, brand communications and brand images in Hong Kong, China, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, etc. Local research firms do extensive researches to find out the lifestyle. For instance, a Hong Kong research firm will be hired to conduct the researches for Hong Kong people. It ensures the accuracy of the result. 6
Local Cultural and Individual Identity
Marlboro Man gives the positive image for smoking by global marketing
Everyone knows that smoking is undoubtedly harmful and unhealthy. But the Marlboro Man suggests another view. It gives us a cool, strong feeling, which is shown in the advertisements. Although Marlboro does not tell us in words, not saying “Smoking is cool”, it is the feeling that everyone receives. It affects the perception of people in the world toward smoking, especially young adults who are mentally immature. The young adults are easily affected by the advertisements. This is used to develop a global Marlboro brand identity and positioning. The marketing strategy successfully turns smoking and Marlboro from bad to not bad in the eye of almost every global citizen. It positives the global view to smoking and more importantly Marlboro.
Globalization of Marlboro enhances the intercultural communication in a manner. For example, there are now over hundred international groups of Marlboro in Facebook. Facebook provide a platform to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. The smokers could communicate and share their common interest by adding other members in the group.
However, as the Marlboro Man permeates in different countries, it led to more and more people light up the cigarettes. This situation is serious as smoking is now not only the adult’s privilege, but also the teenagers’. Marlboro Man sends the message of adventure, independence, freedom, and heroism to the youngsters. Mislead them a scene of fashion and trendy. Even people know that it harms their health, Marlboro become an object of worship. In Hong Kong, for example, there are many slogans which praise this evil corporation such as” 漫漫長路買包萬寶路” (Buy a Marlboro in this livelong way) and “讀萬卷書不如食萬寶路” (Having a Marlboro rather than studying hard). Just like some people said that “呢個係男人既世界, 呢個係萬寶路既世界” (This is the world of man, this is the world of Marlboro). We can see the power of Marlboro.
At the same time, it enhances the cooperation within different countries. Its influence is far-reaching for the human health. Different countries work together of anti-tobacco campaigns. For instance, WTO set the “World No Tobacco Day” on every 31 May. Also there are many organization and activities to against it. Marlboro indirectly link different countries connected with each other.
A Corporate Social Responsibe Company?
Marlboro tries to being a Social Responsible Corporation. It concerns the environment impact of its operations, such as air emissions, waste generation and water consumption. Marlboro implemented an energy efficiency program in its factories which could reduce the emission rate. Besides, most of its facilities have achieved environmental management system certification from the International Organization for Standardization.
Marlboro realizes the importance of youngsters’ education. It gave financial support to the teachers, community organizations, youngster experts and hygiene units in more than fifty countries.7
Moreover, Marlboro support community initiatives in countries around the world, such as response to the Asian tsunami, programs against domestic violence, shelters for street children or food drives for the hungry. In 2008, it made charitable contributions approximately $20 million.
Or a Evil Corporation?
Marlboro tries to make smoking less evil by launching new packages and flavors of cigarettes. The products branded "smooth", "silver" or "gold" are generally believed to be healthier and easier to give up, according to a survey. In our opinion, these subtle changes are not ethical. Because it tried to make people think it is less harmful than the original red one. Actually, it is not the case; they are equally harmful from the scientific researches. It misleads the customers in an indirect way by giving implying information to customers that it is not as harmful as the red one. As a result, it will attract lots of potential customers, who will not smoke before if there is only the original red one.
Although tobacco advertisement is banned in many countries, Marlboro launches the campaign in other countries which are non-smoking-ban, are totally unethical. For example, in Indonesia, there are Marlboro man giant billboards and Marlboro-sponsored kiosks everywhere. Marlboro targets the teenagers as they can be long term customers in the future. Teenagers, who are not mature enough, will be addicted to smoking easily, influenced by the mass advertisements. Moreover, in Russia, he wants the brand focus on “Dad’s smoke”. It tries to make the children to follow their dad to smoke. It will increase the chance the minors will smoke. It is something unethical. From the pictures, what you can see is something attract youngsters, and even children attention.
Marlboro claimed that it does not encourage people to smoke, just to encourage people to have higher quality cigarettes. It is apparently false. If it is true why there is Marlboro man, who makes people think smoking is so cool, or I will be as handsome
attracting new customers.
The war against smoking
As the vector of the tobacco epidemic, the tobacco industry's actions fall far outside of the boundaries of global corporate responsibility. Therefore, global and local actions should not provide the tobacco industry with the two things that it needs to ensure its long term profitability: respectability and predictability.
Non-smoking measures are in fact still controversial. From the liberal point of view, the measures are limiting a person's choice and freedom. However, anti-smoking is certainly a mainstream of the world community. So we support the world keep the anti-smoking movement.
First of all, thank you for all the comments, which kindly lead us make improvements. During the discussion, there is a question that seems interesting and causes a number of responses. Is Marlboro a necessary devil? So our group wants to show our stance here.
Our View of "Evil"
Undoubtedly, Marlboro sells the tobacco which is harmful to the smokers and also to the non-smokers. Or you can say if there is no Marlboro, there will be other tobacco companies. People will still smoke once they are addicted to smoking. Yes this is somewhat true. However, Marlboro encourages immature teenagers to smoke.
The marketing strategies of Marlboro can be described as misleading. It misleads the teenagers, who is immature, to think that they can be as cool as the Marlboro Man if they smoke. The advertisement hides the horrible truth of smoking by putting the cool image that is not true in front. It attracts the immature teenagers that do not know the adverse effects of smoking. From this point of view, Marlboro is unethical to promote this brand using these marketing strategies.
I hope the above one clearly illustrates our stance towards the moral issue of Marlboro, which lots of us talking about in the discussion. Thank you once again for the comments. See you next time.
(Limited to adult smokers 21 years of age or older)
5PM’s Global Strategy: Marlboro Product Technology, B&W, 1992
6 How Philip Morris built Marlboro into a global brand for young adults: implications for international tobacco control, N Hafez and P M Ling, 2005