Marlboro Medium in Saudi Aravia
Marlboro Medium Concept
At this point of the interview, each respondent was presented with a set of visuals representing alternative advertising concepts for Marlboro Medium. The visuals were mounted on a board in color copy.
There were two concepts: A and B. Concept A was entitled 'Horses' and Concept B 'Accessories'. A rotation was maintained in the order of exposure of the two concepts. Thereafter, respondents' reactions were captured and evaluated in terms of likes and dislikes and similarities/differences perceived between the two concepts.
1. Reactions to the Concept
- Concept (A):
Concept (A) consisted of three visuals:
Al = 2 white horses
A2 = Many black horses
A3 = One black horse
By and large, all three pictures in Concept (A) were admired. The three visuals were received with appreciation, and were found to be appropriate and representative of the Marlboro theme.
"The presence of the horse indicates the strength and good quality of the cigarettes"
(Arab Expat – Riyadh – Marlboro Light smoker)
"These pictures are perfect, at first glimpse you can understand the message conveyed"
(Arab Expat – Jeddah – Marlboro Light smoker)
"These pictures are convenient, they convey the message, I was able to understand the ad directly"
(National – Riyadh – Silk Cut smoker)
"The picture of horses reflects power and strength of Marlboro cigarettes"
(National – Jeddah – Marlboro Red smoker)
It is essential to note that this set of visuals was considered to have tremendous communication power i.e. ability to communicate the message of the advertising clearly and immediately. This is facilitated mainly through the picture of the horse which conveys the impression of power and strength and consequently strength of the cigarette. Moreover, the historical use of horses in Marlboro advertising has led to its symbolization of the good quality and other beneficial attributes traditionally associated with the Marlboro name.
- Concept (B):
Concept (B) consisted of five pictures of accessories:
B4 = One Buckle
B5 = Horse Saddle
B6 = Many Buckles
B7 = Cowboy Hat
B8 = 3 Pairs of Boots
Overall, Concept (B) was not received with the same extent of appreciation as as Concept (A). Several factors contributed to this reaction:
- lifeless pictures i.e. absence of any characters
- diversity of colors, misleading to convey Marlboro Medium message
- visual of "boots' was felt to be more appropriate for a shoe advertisement, rather than cigarettes.
It is thus clear that the accessories i.e. boots, hats and buckle have not been linked by most respondents to or associated at all with the traditional cowboy character of Marlboro advertising.
Moreover the visuals of various accessories have not been effective first of all and most importantly in its immediate and direct association to a cigarette advertisement This is critical as in many instances respondents (if they did not know about it in advance) would not have immediately linked the ad to cigarettes. Another important aspect is that the accessories as shown in the visuals may not be items that the Arab consumer readily identifies with. These are typically associated with Americans rather than Arabs thus creating a feeling of alienation.
Lastly, it must be mentioned that respondents have been habituated to the traditional characters of a Marlboro advertisement i.e. horse, cowboy, scenes of nature, such that they have become synonymous with the Marlboro name and personify the brand character. Inclusion of other character, setting etc. which does not fit within this framework may not be acceptable or even understood.
"I think Concept-A is stronger, we are used to seeing the cowboy and horses for Marlboro ads"
(National – Riyadh – Marlboro)
"These pictures are not appropriate, they do not imply that these are ads for cigarettes"
(National – Riyadh – Marlboro Red smoker)
"Not suitable, the idea does not inspire that it is an ad for a cigarette" (National – Jeddah – Kent Lights smoker)
"These pictures are not appropriate, they do not portray Arabs, they are mainly for American people, more specifically adolescents who favor cowboy movies"
(Arab Expat – Riyadh – Marlboro Lights smoker)
"Too many colors which would be misleading; also, you have to carefully examine the pictures to identify the meaning"
(Arab Expat – Riyadh – Marlboro Red smoker)