Advertising Tobacco

The Outing of Philip Morris: Advertising Tobacco

The article being critiqued in this study is on tobacco advertisement in the gay community and their response. This study was carried out by Elizabeth A. Smith, PhD and Ruth E. Malone, PhD, RN who specifically looked into the response of the gay community to tobacco advertisement by Phillip Morris.  This study was aimed at looking into target market response to advertisements and how an early intervention could be carried out especially when the product under advertisement will have a negative impact on the target market.  Generally, the study looked into the events which surround the first time a tobacco product is advertised among the gay community, their response, and the effectiveness of the advertisement.  Through a review of more than 70 industrial documents, 50 newspaper articles and reports, and 13 lesbian and gay periodical, researchers established that there is a possibility of an early intervention among the gay community targeted by tobacco advertisement in order to change their perception on tobacco (Smith and Malone, 2003).  The purpose of this critique is to look into the study in various aspects including its set up, methodology, analysis, and results.

Summary of the article

This article represents results of a case study that was carried out among the gays on tobacco advertisement by Phillip Morris on gay communities.  The study was based on earlier presumption that gay men have a higher prevalence of smoking compared to the rest of the population, although it was not specially established the cause of this prevalence. This study therefore wanted to understand the various factors including advertisement which can influence this trend.

  • Purpose

The main objective of this study was to describe the events which surrounds first time a major advertisement is placed in the gay media by a tobacco company (Smith and Malone, 2003). This was in the background of the previous observations which had shown that gay men had a higher prevalence of smoking compared to men in the rest of the population.

  • Method

To attain its objectives, the study collected data using sources from internal tobacco industry documents (Smith and Malone, 2003). It also used other secondary historical media sources which specifically looked into relationship between Tobacco Company and gay press.  

  • Results

The study found out that tobacco company Phillip Morris was not prepared for the level of attention that that its advertisement received in the gay market.  The company did not expect that the gay community would respond in such a way upon its entry into the gay market (Smith and Malone, 2003).  Phillip Morris reaction is a clear evidence that the way it approached the gay community is different from the strategies it has used to approach other marginalized groups in the society.

In the conclusion, the study showed that the tobacco industry has an underdeveloped relationship with gay community. This provides an opportunity to implement an early intervention (Smith and Malone, 2003). It shows that there is need to implemented intervention programs among gay community in order to reduce their vulnerability to smoking.

Skills gained from the article

One of the lessons that comes out of this advertisement ascertain what had been discussed by the authors arguing that in targeting the gay community, Phillip Morris deliberately wanted to target the gay community. The response the company received from the gay community showed that they felt more included in the company marketing strategy thereby raising their likelihood of being hooked to smoking. What is evident in this case is the fact that the gay community was hungry for recognition and this could not be achieved in a better way than giving support to a big company like Phillip Morris.  On the other hand, Phillip Morris was looking for new customers to increase its sales but it was reluctant to be identified with the gay community since it could easily be accused of targeting marginalized communities in its advertisements. Therefore Phillip Morris had to use all means it could to ensure that it reaches to its target market without suspicion.  I consider this new information because it gives more insight into the relationship between advertising companies and the target market. Before being swayed by influential advertisements on a product or service, it is important to consider the relationship with the company and its intents while placing the advertisement (Barret et al., 2006).

This study also shows the naivety of the tobacco activists. In presenting one article that criticize the company and then presenting another article which praised the company for its contribution to the development of marginalized community, it becomes clear that there is no effective anti-tobacco campaign that can effectively deal with the possible negative effects of advertisement on the marginalized community.  The new lesson that can be learned from this information is that consumer groups may not always be campaigning for the interest of the consumers. Sometimes they are influenced by the benefits they receive from a given company and hence their activism may not be real. This means that it is important for consumers to be on the look to ensure that they understand companies and their products well rather than depending on consumer activists (Barret et al., 2006).

Relationship to class reading

The content of this article can be related to class reading in many ways. First it touches on the important issue of advertisement of products which have health effects and the tussle that may ensue between the advertising company and the consumer activist groups.  The relationship between Phillip Morris, the targeted gay community, and tobacco activists shows the conflict relationship as has been expressed in class readings.

Effect of reader’s health

The information contained in this article is important in helping a consumer to make an informed choice regarding his or her health. First, this article clearly outlines the need for early intervention in order to avert health problems that may be caused by inappropriate market target like tobacco advertisement.  The content of this article assist the reader to see more beyond the advertisement and think critically about the health effects of a product that is being advertised. Overall it empowers the ready with crucial information in order to make informed choice on issue pertaining to smoking and its health effects.


The purpose of this article was to look at tobacco advertisement by Phillip Morrison and how it influence consumer choice among the gay community.  The case study found out that there is an underdeveloped relationship between the gay community and the tobacco community and this has been well utilized in marketing. For a consumer, the content of this article helps to make one more informed in choice of products based on their health effects rather than their advertisement.

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