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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Marlboro Man is a figure used in tobacco advertising campaign for Marlboro cigarettes. In the United States, where the campaign originated, it was used from 1954 to 1999. The Marlboro Man was first conceived by Leo Burnett in 1954. The image involves a rugged cowboy or cowboys, in nature with only a cigarette. The ads were originally conceived as a way to popularize filtered cigarettes, which at the time were considered feminine.

The Marlboro advertising campaign, created by Leo Burnett Worldwide, is said to be one of the most brilliant ad campaigns of all time. It transformed a feminine campaign, with the slogan "Mild as May", into one that was masculine, in a matter of months. Although there were many Marlboro Men, the cowboy proved to be the most popular. This led to the "Marlboro Cowboy" and "Marlboro Country" campaigns.[1]



Philip Morris & Co. (now Altria) had originally introduced the Marlboro brand as a woman's cigarette in 1924. In the years following World War II, Advertising executive Leo Burnett was looking for a new image with which to reinvent Philip Morris's Marlboro brand. Burnett's inspiration for the exceedingly masculine "Marlboro Man" icon came in 1949 from an issue of LIFE magazine, where the photograph (shot by Leonard McCombe) and story of Texas cowboy Clarence Hailey Long caught his attention.[2]

There are also claims that the original idea for the Marlboro Man came from the Chase Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico; it is said that, for this reason, on all pictures of 'The Man' there is a heart brand (The Chase Brand) on his chaps and his horse. The origin and validity of this claim is from Philmont Scout Ranch, also located in Cimmaron, New Mexico.


Three men who appeared in Marlboro advertisements - Wayne McLaren, David McLean (died of lung cancer), and Dick Hammer (died of prostate cancer) - died of cancer, thus earning Marlboro cigarettes, specifically Marlboro Reds, the nickname "Cowboy killers".[3] McLaren testified in favor of anti-smoking legislation at the age of 51. During the time of McLaren's anti-smoking activism, Philip Morris denied that McLaren ever appeared in a Marlboro ad, a position it later amended to maintaining that while he did appear in ads, he was not the Marlboro Man. McLaren died before his 52nd birthday in 1992.[4][5]

The actor and model Christian Haren portrayed the Marlboro Man in the early 1960s and later became active in AIDS prevention education.[6]


In many countries, the Marlboro Man is an icon of the past due to increasing pressure on tobacco advertising for health reasons, especially where the practice of smoking appears to be celebrated or glorified. The deaths described above may also have made it more difficult to use the campaign without attracting negative comment. The image continued until recently at least in countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic[7]. It still continues in Japan (on tobacco vending machines for example) where smoking is widespread in the male population.

"Death In the West", a Thames Television documentary,[8] was an exposé of the cigarette industry centered around the myth of the Marlboro Man that aired on British television in 1976. Phillip Morris sued the filmmakers and in a 1979 secret settlement all copies were suppressed. In 1983, Professor Stanton A. Glantz released the film and San Francisco, California's KRON aired the documentary in 1982. Since then it has been seen around the world.

In popular culture

The Marlboro Man was portrayed by Don Johnson in the 1991 film Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. Although the name "Marlboro Man" was used, like several other products that shared the same name with the characters, the company did not sponsor or endorse the film itself.

Sam Elliot plays a cancer stricken former Marlboro Man in Thank You for Smoking

In Tony Kushner's play [9], the character Prior despairs of his former lover's current boyfriend, Joe, and Joe's handsome, masculine appearance, declaring "He's the Marlboro Man, he made me feel beyond Nelly..."


See also

External links



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