Philip Morris International Promotion and Communications Strategy Paper

Assignment Instructions

Do research on Phillip Morris International (Marlboro). Now focus your research on this company’s promotion and communications strategy. Find out as much as you can about the company’s promotion mix. Before starting on your paper make sure you are familiar with the five main aspects of the promotion mix – advertising, public relations, personal selling, sales promotion, and direct marketing. Review all of the background materials regarding these five aspects. When you have finished researching your company’s promotion strategies and thoroughly reviewed the main promotion strategies covered in the background readings, write a two to three page paper addressing the following questions:

  1. What kind of advertising campaigns is this company currently engaged in? What kind of media do they advertise in, for example television, the internet, etc.?
  2. What kind of public relations efforts does this company engage in?
  3. Does this company ever use sales promotions such as coupons, giving away free samples, etc.?
  4. Does this company use personal selling at all? If so, did you ever deal with one of this company’s salespersons when you purchased their product?
  5. Does this company use direct marketing? For example, do they send out emails to customers? Or use telemarketing?

Philip Morris International Promotion and Communications Strategy Paper

Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) is a global American tobacco and cigarette company which sells its products in over 200 countries. One of the most recognised and its best-selling product is the Marlboro. It was founded in 1900 and has its headquarters in New York City, New York, USA. Its products are not only cigarette and tobacco but also includes cigars, snuff, tubes and rolling papers.

Over the past few years, many countries have imposed either total or partial bans on adverts regarding tobacco promotion and marketing. Philip Morris International however does not agree on bans against tobacco advertising as it does not believe that advertising makes people smoke. The approach it uses is what matters. PMI has been a very strong advocate for the regulations which limit tobacco product marketing(Szczypka, Wakefield, Emery, Terry-McElrath, Flay, & Chaloupka, 2007). In their opinion, if regulations are set regarding advertisements and marketing, it will ensure that all the campaigns that are carried out are following the same rule.

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In its defense, they strongly advocate for marketing of their products to the adult smokers as it is fundamental to the ever growing global competition. It is also important for the adult smokers to be able to receive information on their products range as well as their preferred product choice. According to Philip Morris International, regulations can play a very big role by striking a balance ensuring that the tobacco manufacturers are able to communicate with the adult smokers and limiting effectively the tobacco product marketing(Szczypka et al2007).

Marketing is among the greatest strengths possessed by PMI and above all it remains the core pillar of their competitive strategy. Their marketing campaigns are based on three principles:

  • All their marketing materials and packaging contain health warnings
  • Marketing is not done to children and they do not use images or anything else that might appeal the minors
  • All their marketing practices fully respect the global standards of decency and also the local traditions, cultures as well as practices (Szczypka et al 2007).

There are several types of advertising campaigns that are used by several companies. Four of these are popularly known to build brands and drive sales and include;

  • A word hook
  • A consistent brand layout
  • A repeatable theme and a character hook

Philip Morris International in this case is using the work hood kind of advertising campaign. This is because it uses a repeatable catch phrase from ad to ad. For example, its ad on the Marlboro man represented a power of the brand by creating a lifestyle around its products. Some of the catch phrases it uses include; want to be a man? Want to be free? Want to be on the open range? This was used to define the Marlboro man. This ad was very effective as it captures the ideal lifestyle which most men have aspired at this time. They ensure that whatever product they are selling fits well in the audience’s lifestyle.

Philip Morris International mostly uses television commercials as well as the internet in its advertisements. It has its own website where they update their clients about their products. The company has however faced several challenges in television advertising especially when tobacco advertising was banned.

The company has set up a public relations strategy which they believe will enable the increase their sales. It has commissioned a research that deals with finding answers to their client’s concerns and questions regarding the effects of tobacco smoking to the human health(Ong & Glantz, 2001).

This company also uses sales promotions such as coupons and giveaways. Like for March, 2016, Philip Morris has given out offers which includes 2 sales and 2 promo codes as well.

The company uses four different types of distribution channels which are employed globally. These include the exclusive zonified distribution, distribution of their products through the single independent distributors, direct sales and distribution as well as distribution through the regional and national wholesalers. The company thus does not use personal selling at all as it depends on the retailers and the wholesalers(Penny, 2016). This range of distribution is very beneficial in that it enables the company to make distributions directly to the retailers in a single market and thus can obtain a suitable returns on their investments. In most of the markets, the company directly supplies the retail chains, the gas stations and the supermarkets as well.

Most of the tobacco companies have faced a very great challenge following its ban on advertisement on the TV’s, Internet and the billboards as well. This has caused the tobacco industry sales to drop by 5%. Philip Morris was one of the affected brands but still sponsors an American-idol like brand in the web which is known as “The Best of Marlboro Country Music. There are promotions on the college campuses, the night clubs on the internet as well as on the stores where these cigarettes are sold. The company uses a one- on-one approach but finds a way to avoid or minimize its exposure of advertisements to minors (Wakefield, Morley, Horan & Cunnings, 2002).

Philip Morris International contains a database containing more than 25 million names. These are all adults who have already smoke and have agreed to be on the database so as to receive information from the company about their cigarette brands. Their system enables them to make a verification of who the person is and to ensure by all means that they are who they say they are. They also ensure that this person is an adult. PMI thus uses this database to target the smokers for chances to win a vacation as well as the discount coupons.

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