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Going below the line: creating transportable brands for Australia’s dark market
  1. S M Carter
  1. Correspondence to:
 Stacy M Carter
 School of Public Health, Room 128A Building A27, University of Sydney NSW 2006, Australia;


Objective: To investigate non-point-of-sale cigarette marketing in Australia, one of the “darkest” markets in the world.

Design: Analysis of 172 tobacco industry documents.

Results: The tobacco industry has continued to market their products despite severe restrictions on legal marketing activity. They made careful plans to circumvent regulation well in advance. In preparation for bans, they chose and strengthened existing brands to enable their continued success in a dark market and prepared the consumer for bans by increasing their spending on below the line activities. Bans reduced the industry’s effectiveness and efficiency. After bans new brand launches stopped: instead key existing brands were strengthened via alterations to the product, line extensions, and stretching loopholes in the legislation as far as possible. In line with the general trend towards integrated marketing, a range of activities have been used in combination, including guerrilla marketing, advertising in imported international magazines, altering the pack, sponsorships, brand stretching, event promotions, lifestyle premiums, and the development of corporate websites.

Conclusions: The tobacco industry acknowledges that marketing restrictions have an impact, validating their continued use in tobacco control. The industry is extremely creative in circumventing these marketing restrictions, requiring tobacco marketing regulations to be informed by marketing expertise, regularly updated, and to adopt the broadest possible scope. Tobacco control advocates, particularly those communicating with young people, could learn from the creativity of the tobacco industry.

  • tobacco industry
  • marketing
  • Australia
  • ATL, “above-the- line”
  • BTL, “below-the-line”
  • OOH, out-of-home
  • PML, Philip Morris (Australia) Limited
  • POS, point-of sale
  • TAP Act, Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act

Statistics from


  • * Personal communication from Fiona Cameron, freelance journalist, Melbourne, 19 July 2002.

  • Personal observation, Winfield 25s, NSW, 2002

  • Personal observation, NSW, 2002

  • § Personal observation, NSW, 2002

  • A picture of this case is available at

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