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Targeting youth and concerned smokers: evidence from Canadian tobacco industry documents
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  1. Richard W Pollay
  1. Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Professor Richard Pollay, Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration, UBC - Zone 2, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada;pollay{at}commerce.ubc.ca

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To provide an understanding of the targeting strategies of cigarette marketing, and the functions and importance of the advertising images chosen.

METHODS Analysis of historical corporate documents produced by affiliates of British American Tobacco (BAT) and RJ Reynolds (RJR) in Canadian litigation challenging tobacco advertising regulation, the Tobacco Products Control Act (1987): Imperial Tobacco Limitee & RJR-Macdonald Inc c. Le Procurer General du Canada.

RESULTS Careful and extensive research has been employed in all stages of the process of conceiving, developing, refining, and deploying cigarette advertising. Two segments commanding much management attention are “starters” and “concerned smokers”. To recruit starters, brand images communicate independence, freedom and (sometimes) peer acceptance. These advertising images portray smokers as attractive and autonomous, accepted and admired, athletic and at home in nature. For “lighter” brands reassuring health concerned smokers, lest they quit, advertisements provide imagery conveying a sense of well being, harmony with nature, and a consumer's self image as intelligent.

CONCLUSIONS The industry's steadfast assertions that its advertising influences only brand loyalty and switching in both its intent and effect is directly contradicted by their internal documents and proven false. So too is the justification of cigarette advertising as a medium creating better informed consumers, since visual imagery, not information, is the means of advertising influence.

  • advertising
  • brand imagery
  • market research
  • youth targeting
  • “concerned” smokers
  • corporate documents
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