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Working to Make an Image: An Analysis of Three Philip Morris Corporate Image Media Campaigns

Szczypka G, Wakefield MA, Emery S, Terry-McElrath Y, Flay B and Chaloupka FJ. Tobacco Control, 16(5): 344-350, 2007.

Objective: To describe the nature and timing of, and population exposure to, Philip Morris USA’s three explicit corporate image television advertising campaigns and explore the motivations behind each campaign.

Methods : Analysis of television ratings from the largest 75 media markets in the United States, which measure the reach and frequency of population exposure to advertising; copies of all televised commercials produced by Philip Morris; and tobacco industry documents, which provide insights into the specific goals of each campaign.

Findings: Household exposure to the ‘‘Working to Make a Difference: the People of Philip Morris’’ averaged 5.37 ads/month for 27 months from 1999-2001; the ‘‘Tobacco Settlement’’ campaign averaged 10.05 ads/month for three months in 2000; and ‘‘PMUSA’’ averaged 3.11 ads/month for the last six months in 2003. The percentage of advertising exposure that was purchased in news programming in order to reach opinion leaders increased over the three campaigns from 20%, 39% and 60%, respectively. These public relations campaigns were designed to counter negative images, increase brand recognition, and improve the financial viability of the company.

Conclusions: Only one early media campaign focused on issues other than tobacco, whereas subsequent campaigns have been specifically concerned with tobacco issues, and more targeted to opinion leaders. The size and timing of the advertising buys appeared to be strategically crafted to maximize advertising exposure for these population subgroups during critical threats to Philip Morris’s public image.

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