This is an odd one, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you read that headline twice (or maybe more than that). A giant tobacco company – namely Philip Morris International, or PMI – has kicked off the New Year in style. Many people begin the New Year with a resolution to stop smoking, and the tobacco company wants to gain some business on the back of that.
In common with other cigarette manufacturers, PMI is diversifying into smoke-free products as well as continuing to sell cigarettes. This has led them to launch huge adverts in notable British newspapers. The message? ‘Our New Year’s Resolution: We’re trying to give up cigarettes.’
Now, as a cigarette manufacturer, that headline is certainly going to grab some attention. And maybe that is the point. Responsible for brands including the famous Marlboro cigarettes, PMI is looking to continue to sell cigarettes while simultaneously offering a healthier alternative in vaping products. The aim is to let people know they can provide an alternative, rather than seeing their customers going to vape shops and websites.
If you visit their official website, you will see they are aiming to build the company’s future on smoke-free products. There is something of the hero riding in on a white charger about this, but of course, all cigarette manufacturers know they will lose money if they do not respond to the changing marketplace. Very few attempts to quit smoking are ever successful. That’s how hard it is to achieve this aim. Vaping has made it far easier to quit smoking. Statistics show it is by far the most successful way to make the switch.
If PMI did nothing, their profits would fall. So, they are positioning themselves to move into the smoke-free market and to develop and sell vaping products. In doing so, they can persuade people who want to stop smoking their cigarettes to stay with them and use the vaping products instead.
It’s a smart move.
With £2.5 billion already invested in this area, PMI has already introduced smoke-free products. This ad tells us we should expect lots more of the same to come. The ad goes on to state they want to put messages inside cigarette packets to provide info on quitting smoking and on switching to vaping products. And yes, they will be able to point the way to their own products.
Of course, some are cynical. In the end, PMI would lose money if it did nothing but continue to sell cigarettes. And while they are promoting their own vaping alternatives, they aren’t stopping their sales of cigarettes. They will never do that… unless perhaps they become too expensive to produce to be viable. And we cannot imagine that will happen anytime soon.
What are your thoughts on the new adverts released by PMI? Do you think this is a step in the right direction? Or is it simply a way to encourage people to keep buying their products – albeit in a different format?