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Rate My Informative Essay! (Mad Men Style!)

mkgogginsmkgoggins Posts: 24 Harvard Champion
edited May 2013 in College Essays
Could you all please give me some feedback on this? I think it is my best essay so far that I've done in my college career--it also happens to be the first essay I had in ENG101 in my 1st semester. I plan move on from my current Comm. College and go to Yale or another Top-Tier school. How is my writing in relation to the heavy-hitters at those institutions? Thanks for reading. By the way, do you think I am a good writer as this was my 1st assignment in Community College? What should I do better for law school target?


Nowadays, the American public is fascinated with shows like Mad Men, where we see the ad men of Madison Ave. drink, smoke, and womanize, while creating visionary ad pitches. They tailored these ads to fit the changing milieu of a public gradually getting sucked into the counter-cultural vortex of the swingin' 60s. However, before Don Draper there was Don Tennant— an ad executive at the prestigious Leo Burnett advertising agency. Tennant's story, when in 1964 he created the Marlboro Man advertising campaign is a much deeper one than any story on cable TV.

The ads Tennant created as part of the campaign typically consisted of a picture of a cowboy in action around a ranch with a cigarette in his lips. Only a few words of text were used-if any- yet it was so successful that it is often hailed as one of the most brilliant ad campaigns of all time. Within eight months of the Marlboro Man’s inception, sales rose by a staggering 5,000%(Devlin). Leonardo Da Vinci once said simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication. If this statement is true, then a prime example of this notion can be found in these Marlboro advertisements. Simple, understated, yet through its subtleties, it speaks volumes to the audience, evoking their emotions, as well as their desires. By studying an example of these ads that embody this campaign, we can discover how Marlboro employed such brilliant marketing techniques as subtle, subliminal messaging, vivid imagery, and manipulation of their audiences’ psychology to turn their struggling brand into the powerhouse company that exists today.

To understand fully how the campaign was introduced and became such a success, some background information can provide some key insights. The Marlboro brand started out as a filter tipped cigarette targeted towards the female consumer with the slogan, “Mild as May”. The head execs at the company grew dissatisfied with speaking to only half of the market share, so they decided to hire the advertising agency Leo Burnett Worldwide to helm their new campaign aimed at capturing the male demographic.
This was a difficult proposition considering that men were decidedly hesitant to smoke what they had known as a women’s cigarette. They saw the filter as having feminine connotations, and did not want to be embarrassed in front of their buddies being seen smoking a cigarette made for a woman. Don Tennant, an executive at the Leo Burnett agency, came up with an ingenious solution to this problem and began to reshape the brands image into a masculine product with the advent of the Marlboro Man. The Marlboro Man was a monumental success and he continues to be the brand's chieftain this day.
As we look at an example of one of these advertisements, we can see some fascinating tactics that were used to sway the male audience. First, we see three cowboys standing next to a horse, with one of the men lighting what can only be assumed to be a Marlboro cigarette. What comes to mind is the bond they seem to have—almost a fraternity of sorts—akin to the fraternity associated with a group of smokers huddled around, shooting the breeze. It asserts that the act of smoking is a communal act, a male bonding ritual that strengthens those relationships with their buddies in a unique way that can only be attained through the act of smoking. It hints at an exclusive club that only smokers can belong to, implying that if you do not smoke you will find yourself left out of the group and alone.

Another key element in this ad is the use of subliminal messages. Jean Kilbourne, a respected analyst of the effects of advertising on society, states in an article entitled, “In Your Face, All Over The Place” that“…we are powerfully influenced, mostly on an unconscious level, by the experience of being immersed in an advertising culture...”(70). A powerful subliminal message implied in this ad is if you smoke Marlboro cigarettes, you will be a real man. To analyze this point, we must think of some qualities that a cowboy possesses. They live a rough and rugged lifestyle, and there are certain stereotypes that can relate to them; we think of them as independent, strong-willed, masculine, and providers for their families. If we dig deeper into the persona of the cowboy, we think of their role as the hero archetype in popular culture and movies. Movie stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood portrayed the cowboy hero as the calm, cool, and collected tough guy in many of the Western movies we know and love. The fact that they almost always had a cigar or cigarette dangling from their lips certainly reinforces the connection made through the Marlboro Man ad campaign. It is no coincidence that a cowboy was chosen as the figurehead for Marlboro cigarettes; men would think back to their childhood heroes and role models who were often the cowboy in Western movies, while striving to be like them in every way possible and Marlboro provided a way for them to be just like their idols.

Undoubtedly, the most significant of all the techniques employed in this advertisement is its use of imagery. In the picture, we see the repeated use of the color brown; from dark browns, light browns, mahogany hues, to tans. These colors can also be associated with the colors of a richly flavored, roasty-toasty tobacco leaf.
We see the text,” Come to Marlboro country. Come to where the flavor is.”. It is extremely simple and understated, containing only ten words, yet these words were carefully chosen to evoke a sensory response in the smoker that is viewing the ad. When they think of the word flavor in relation to a cigarette, their mind starts to crave the rich flavor of tobacco; and in this case, the rich flavor that only a Marlboro cigarette provides. This ad uses vivid imagery in incredibly subtle ways to stimulate almost every sense that a smoker has; their sense of sight, smell and taste.

The Marlboro Man campaign has proved itself to be a juggernaut of the marketing world. Through its apt use of imagery and at times devious subliminal advertising tactics, it has been a resounding triumph for Don Tennant, the Burnett Agency, and Marlboro—its sales numbers spiked through the roof and turned around what was once a company on the verge of failure. Even fifty years after the inception of the campaign, America's consumers remain deeply rooted in the amber-hued fields of tobacco in Marlboro country.









Works Cited (Yes I know it isn't formatted per MLA)

Kilbourne, Jean. Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Print
Devlin, Vince. “Marlboro Man, Without The Marlboros”. Los Angeles Times. 26 May 2002.Los
Angeles Times. 19 September 2012.
Post edited by mkgoggins on

Replies to: Rate My Informative Essay! (Mad Men Style!)

  • mkgogginsmkgoggins Posts: 24 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    P.S.-I just added the part about Mad Men in the intro to bring some relevance to it and make it up to date kind of.
  • mkgogginsmkgoggins Posts: 24 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    Bump that!!!
  • mkgogginsmkgoggins Posts: 24 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    Come on guys, please help me, I need to be a good writer to get into law. Bump
  • swingtimeswingtime Posts: 4
    edited May 2013
    That's why they have professors in colleges. You know, to help you with your writing. This site does not provide public writing tutorials. And no reputable poster with Ivy teaching experience is going to make public comparative or evaluative comments on your publicly-posted essay in this public forum. We are not here to provide that level of advice or service in public forums. It is inappropriate, and in my opinion would be unethical.

    And, you were advised on the Harvard Forum to be more cautious about posting supposedly original work on open forums. I will tell you what I told you on the Harvard Forum: use your own school's resources when seeking such advice, and use more "smarts" when deciding what to post, especially since you seem prepared to accept any old anonymous feedback for the purposes of academic decision-making. Very unwise strategy all around.

    I'll say it one more time. Seek appropriate advice and assistance from legitimate writing faculty at your college, NOT at College Confidential. We cannot, and should not, provide that kind or level of public advice or service.

    There is a list on this particular forum of those willing to read essays. But they will need to be Pm'd for PRIVATE assistance.
  • mkgogginsmkgoggins Posts: 24 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    Okay, thank you. I appreciate you trying to show me the ropes.
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