Filtered cigarettes were originally only for women.
Men smoked masculine, unfiltered cigarettes.
The thinking was that men could take tobacco straight, but it would be too strong for frail women.
Delicate ladies needed a filter for a milder taste.
Plus, the cigarette paper would ruin a woman’s lipstick by sticking to it.
So, in 1924, Marlboro was launched as a woman’s cigarette.
The original advertising promised the filter would make the flavour “As mild as May”.
It also referred to the filter tips as “Beauty Tips: to keep the paper from your lips”.
To appeal to women, Marlboro had the classy, British-sounding name.
It also had a stylish red and white pack and an elegant serif typeface.
As a woman’s cigarette, Marlboro had just 1% of the market.
And that’s where it stayed, until the 1950s.
That’s when America discovered cigarettes were bad for your health.
But there was a belief that smoke inhaled through a filter would be less harmful.
So cigarette companies began advertising the benefits of filter cigarettes.
Explaining that filters could let the flavour through, but let less of the harmful tar through.
The only problem with advertising like this is that it applies to all filter cigarettes.
So it grows the market for everyone.
In Chicago, Leo Burnett were smarter than that.
They saw there was an opportunity to grow Marlboro filter sales.
But, with 1% share, they wouldn’t do that just by Market Growth advertising, they’d only do it by Market Share advertising.
Leo Burnett realised it was smart to let everyone else talk about the benefits of filter cigarettes.
And while they did that, Marlboro would talk about what made their filter cigarette different.
They’d reposition Marlboro from being a woman’s cigarette into a man’s cigarette, for tough guys.
That would establish their filter as letting more flavour through.
Which immediately repositioned all other filter cigarettes as having less flavour.
And to prove it they’d have men in tough jobs smoking Marlboro.
Construction workers, ship’s captains, war correspondents, even cowboys.
Of course, cowboys outperformed all the rest.
Especially with the line COME TO WHERE THE FLAVOUR IS: COME TO MARLBORO COUNTRY.
Suddenly it was okay for men to smoke filter tips.
Because Marlboro, even with filter tips, was a cigarette for real men.
In just two years Marlboro sales grew by 300%.
Fifteen years later, Marlboro was the biggest selling cigarette in the entire world.
Now Marlboro, along with Coke, and Levis, and McDonalds, and Harley Davidson is an American icon.
One of the most powerful brands on the planet.
All by understanding the difference between Market Growth and Market Share advertising.
That’s predatory thinking.