Is it possible for a company to tell its customers to stop buying its mainproducts? This is the strange strategy Philip Morris International has been betting on in a new advertising campaign. However, the company’s actions on the ground contradict its bizarre marketing strategy.
The owner of the Marlboro brand has just announced a new campaign called “Unsmoke.” The idea is simple: encourage people to avoid smoking cigarettes. And as for smokers, if they are unable to quit, the company is making it clear that there are less harmful options available.
This is not a traditional anti-tobacco campaign, however, but rather a marketing campaign for IQOS. Offered in 44 countries throughout the world, this smokeless tobacco-based device is advertised as an alternative to cigarettes. However, nothing suggests that it doesn’t come without dangers: in 2018, a study at the University of San Francisco showed that it the IQOS is just as harmful to the lungs as traditional cigarettes.
First and foremost a communication campaign for Philip Morris
IQOS is the new spearhead in the company’s rebranding efforts, and Philip Morris is hoping to ride the current wave of tobacco alternatives. In fact, global cigarette sales are currently dropping by 3-4% every year, suggesting an opportunistic strategy that will not result in improved public health.
At the same time, Philip Morris continues to flood global markets that remain unaware or unconcerned about the dangers of smoking: last year, cigarette sales rose in Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Turkey.
New brands have been tested in Indonesia, where 200,000 people die every year from tobacco-related illnesses. By encouraging western smokers to quit smoking, Philip Morris International is being shamefully cynical, going as far as suggesting that the IQOS 2 will actually be used to help fight against tobacco addiction!