The Marlboro Man was a fictional character who appeared in several advertising campaigns for the Philip Morris Corporation. His ads ran on television from 1964 through 1999, effectively entering the collective conscience of the American people for generations. Philip Morris is one of the largest tobacco producing companies in the world, and the corporation used the Marlboro Man with great success over the years.
The Marlboro Man was a strong, rugged-looking man who rode a mighty horse, and traveled throughout the country promoting tobacco products. He appeared in television, radio, print, and billboard ads for decades. When the United States Surgeon General deemed tobacco smoke as unhealthy in the 1960s, the beginning of the end for the Marlboro Man had begun. The Surgeon General began an anti-smoking campaign by requiring all cigarette companies to place its warning label on each package sold in the country. The warning included the wording that "Tobacco smoke can cause lung cancer." Soon the pressure was on the tobacco companies to curb their advertising campaigns.
In 1955, tobacco sales reached $15 billion in the United States alone. After the Marlboro Man was introduced to the American public, that total reached $20 billion. This increase was largely based on the Marlboro Man campaign. The company also started an advertising scheme by offering genuine Marlboro Man gear for sale. These commodities were of high quality that appealed to the outdoor type of person. The gear ranged from camping equipment, hats, to outdoor clothing. It was very successful in its time. This success came at a great expense though. Four men who portrayed the Marlboro Man died of lung cancer, earning Marlboro cigarettes as the cowboy killer. The Marlboro Man is still popular in some parts of Europe and Japan, where smoking is still in vogue.