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The Marlboro Man

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He was the Most Influential Man Who Never Lived.  Though there were many Marlboro Man models over time until 1999 (factoid: but only three of them succumbed to lungs cancer), the original inspiration for the Philip Morris cigarette advertising campaign came through Life magazine photographs by Leonard McCombe from 1949.

Clarence Hailey Long (above) was a 39-year-old, 150-pound foreman at the JA ranch in the Texas panhandle, a place described as “320,000 acres of nothing much.” Once a week, Long would ride into town for a store-bought shave and a milk shake. Maybe he’d take in a movie if a western was playing. He was described as “as silent man, unassuming and shy, to the point of bashfulness [with a] face sunburned to the color of saddle leather [with cowpuncher's] wrinkles radiating from pale blue eyes.” He wore “a ten-gallon Stetson hat, a bandanna around his neck, a bag of Bull Durhamtobacco with its yellow string dangling from his pocket, and blue denim, the fabric of the profession”. He said things like, “If it weren’t for a good horse, a woman would be the sweetest thing in the world.” He rolled his own smokes.

When the cowboy’s face and story appeared in LIFE in 1949, advertising exec Leo Burnett had an inspiration. Philip Morris, which had introduced Marlboro as a woman’s cigarette in 1924, was seeking a new image for the brand. The image managed to transform a feminine campaign, with the slogan “Mild as May”, into one that was masculine in a matter of months. The “Marlboro Cowboy” and “Marlboro Country” campaigns based on Long boosted Marlboro to the top of the worldwide cigarette market and Long to the top of the marriage market: Long’s Marlboro photographs led to marriage proposals from across the nation, all of which he rejected.

By the time the Marlboro Man went national in 1955, sales were at $5 billion, a 3,241% jump over the previous year. Over the next decade, Burnett and Philip Morris experimented with other manly types — ball players, race car drivers and rugged guys with tattoos (often friends of the creative team, sporting fake tattoos); all worked, but the Marlboro Man worked the best. By the time the first article linking lung cancer to smoking appeared in Reader’s Digest in 1957, the Marlboro sales were at $20 billion. Before the Marlboro Man, the brand’s U.S. share stood at less than 1%, but in 1972 (a year after the cigarette ads were banned from American televisions) it became the No. 1 tobacco brand in the world.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

October 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

48 Responses

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  1. [...] 2:02 pm on October 20, 2009 Reply Tags: life (170), photography (70) The Marlboro Man, the most influential man who never lived, along with Santa Claus. [...]

    • You can’t blame an ‘ad’ or an actor portrayal for your own lack of self control. The Marlboro Man was not only an image for a cigarette, but a fast dying way of life for many men of the west. Yes, I was a smoker for many years before I quit. I can honestly say, the Marlboro Man did not make me do it or choose the brand. It was a really nice write up. Thank you for posting and the info :)

      Sandy

      November 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm

  2. thats one a heck of nice story :) thanks for sharing

    Naveed Ahmad

    October 20, 2009 at 4:00 pm

  3. Nice picture, but how many people have died as a result of the slick marketing of a concept?

    Crusty

    October 20, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    • People shouldn’t be so easily misled. We can’t blame others for our failings..

      Sherron teal

      August 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    • Yes, try all the beer adds, etc. People have to set limits, but few do. Johnny

      J R Roberts

      January 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm

  4. Nice read, nice blog.

    dancingirja

    October 21, 2009 at 6:39 am

    • That probably was Yul Brynner (actor) you are thinking about.

      DrMeatwadPhD

      April 7, 2013 at 8:21 am

      • Was definitely Yul Brenner. He was speaking on a talk show regarding his desire to make as PSA. His message on the talk show was so heartfelt it WAS turned into a PSA. It was also successful enough to be pulled almost immediately; a similar situation to the PSA of the tobacco industry CEO’s all raising their hands simultaneously when asked by the US congress “Who here has no evidence that cigarettes are bad for human health?”

        andrew falk

        April 17, 2013 at 4:37 am

    • No he wasn’t. He is my second cousin and never profited from nor participated in the add campain in any way. His photo inspired the add campain. Doubt he ever realized it. Stayed on the ranch and raised a family.

      David Harmonson

      February 6, 2014 at 5:47 pm

  5. [...] something American about denim, and something deeply American about theirs in particular. (The Marlboro Man has done his part.) The company makes a poetic case in their recent Go Forth campaign, launched [...]

  6. [...] intriguing facts and figures about brands, innovation and anything in between, I stumbled upon a Iconic Photos blog that discussed the book “The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived“, a book [...]

  7. I was kidnapped by the 3rd. Marlboro Man used by Philip Morris in the famous ad campaign. His name was Claude Hall and he kidnapped me and my two small children in Hawaii in 1972. I have just written a book on the four years of hell that man put us through.It is available on amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. The book is a powerful read, but the story is one of fear,rape,hope,forgiveness and joy. It tells the true story of one Hollywood,psychopath abuser.He died the way that he lived,a horrible life and a tragic unbelievable death.

    marcia n hill

    May 21, 2010 at 8:56 pm

  8. OH, I almost forgot… The book is called Hazardous To My Health-The Marlboro Man I Knew!

    marcia n hill

    May 21, 2010 at 8:59 pm

  9. [...] has an advertising image been hailed as a pop culture icon. In that rarified company of Marlboro Man and Benetto Pieta belongs this 1978 photograph by Steven Steigman, which would later be known as [...]

  10. This is an absolutly incredible story of abduction, rape, abuse, forgiveness, joy, and a very sureal tragic ending! This has hollywood movie written all over. This animal “Claude Hall” should have been in prison for life and not allowed to inflict such pain and suffering on this young family. Bravo Marcia for telling your story to the world.
    Charles Vandersnick

    marcia n hill

    January 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm

  11. I was told by my Mother that my Grandfather was one of the original Marlboro Men. His name was Wes Hudman. He was also in the movie “The Sheepman” with Glen Ford. If he really was a Marlboro Man I would sure love to know where I can go to get a copy of his picture!

    Thank You so much
    Lisa

    lisa

    February 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    • Lisa, I was told this as well by my grandmother Ava, who was married to Wes. Wendy

      Wendy Bedran

      September 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      • Wendy, hello! When was your grandmother married to Wes. My Mother was born in 1940. Do you know anything about how Wes died. It is something like he was shot and killed in Williams Az. Interesting stuff.

        Lisa

        March 15, 2012 at 2:58 am

    • yes another person in 1960 62 was from northfield.mn Harley cassem , phillip morris had a film team at Lonsdale.in the hills,it looked like it was out west..

      doug

      January 28, 2014 at 6:20 pm

  12. I almost forgot, the name of my book is Hazardous To My Health-The Marlboro Man I Knew. It’s available at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. It’s a story of kidnapping, rape and extreme abusive violence. It’s also A story of forgiveness, faith and God’s love!
    Thank tou all and enjoy the book
    Marcia N. Hill

    marcia n hill

    February 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm

  13. Mr. Long was a nice man from what I remember … the first horse I ever rode was his (my father knew him).

    David

    May 29, 2011 at 12:55 am

  14. Darrel Winfield who currently resides just outside of Riverton, WY is the most well known Marlboro Man and from the 70-s thru the 90’s. He personally is one of the nicest men I have met along with his family. They sell horses these days and make fair gains for a fair horse. As far as the smoking He has quit a few times. These days back pain causes him more problems than anything else.

    DBSJRDC

    June 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    • I heard that Darrel Winfield had cancer and used only herbs in treating it. What do you know about that part of his life?

      Robin

      June 30, 2011 at 10:46 pm

  15. I was also told by my mother that my grandfather worked for Leo Burnett and was on the team that developed the transformation of the woman cigarette to the man on the horse, his name was Andy Armstrong. I have framed pictures of him from Life Magazine. Grandad died of Cancer but not Lung.

    Melissa

    October 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    • Hi Melissa! So excited to see your comment! My parents were friends with your Grandfather. I met him once when I was a very little kid (4 or 5 years old). I’m named after Andy. Is your mom one of the twins?
      -Andrew Falk

      andrew falk

      September 20, 2012 at 3:06 am

    • He was the first Marlboro Man and a key person at Leo Burnett. After about ten years there he retired in about 1957, and went back to college at the University of Chicago. He got an A.B. and a masters degree a year later. Then he went to teach at Shimer college. Many alumni remember him well. He had a very impressive personality. His twin daughters went to college there. Later, he was retrieved from retirement by Leo Burnett during an effort to revitalize the firm.

      James M Knock

      August 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    • Wow! Thank you Andrew and James for sharing. Andy was my dad and I love hearing stories from people who knew him!

      Jennifer Armstrong

      April 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm

  16. The picture I really liked was the one of the Marlboro Man on his horse – with his oxygen bottle and mask to help his fried lungs, throat, mouth, larynx, tongue and his emphysema..

    Doug Harris

    October 26, 2011 at 7:00 am

  17. as Tom Selleck ever the Marlboro Man?

    Mark De Jesus

    December 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm

  18. You should take part in a contest for one of the most useful blogs online. I most certainly will highly recommend this website!

    famous cigars

    March 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

  19. the legendary man

    insang

    March 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

  20. WAS WILLIAMS [BILL] HICKS EVER A MARLBORO MAN

    HELENE CARUSO

    September 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm

  21. well i dated one of the Marlboro man and he wasn’t that great, was going to sue me if i didn’t return all his photos to his agent, did he really think i would wanted to keep them anyway? save me…

    angela gorman

    November 13, 2012 at 4:59 am

  22. Can’t help but think of the first few seasons of Mad Men when in the show they pitch “Lucky Strike” a new ad campaign because of the studies suggesting that smoking was deadly. Can’t imagine what it was like during that time when so many people smoked inside offices while working.

    Vinyl Banners

    March 6, 2013 at 8:28 am

    • Or grocery shopping with smokers all around you. Lucky Strike brand had this great idea for a filter,,, it was made from asbestos. How many of the lung cancers blamed for tobacco were really caused by other factors. Like lighting up with the flare up of the sulfur matches, or the zippo lighter fuel so many used, or the asbestos filters?

      DrMeatwadPhD

      April 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

      • Interesting read, and to think that back then medical doctors were not only advising patients that smoking was good for you but also smoked themselves; then, who really wants to read all that data (much of it hidden or not understood at the time), particularly since it’s simply not that easy as you say, so many factors –both environmental, other additions/products and of course genetics–play into it? Particularly not when you’ve a glorious ad campaign/lifestyle branding going on such as this–I mean, what kid on the planet doesn’t want to be a cowboy under the Big Sky? Blue jeans, shearling coats and horses, sounds good. Now, have your smoke. Take a break, because you can, just you and your horse under the Big Sky: FREEDOM. Sounds good. As to health issues: Nicotine itself while addictive isn’t harmful but actually proven to have health benefits, and it’s to be found in many forms not just smoking tobacco or so-called smoking cessation products (gum, patches, inhalers of Rx), but also food as it’s a natural pesticide used since ancient times; ants and other pests, don’t need much of it for them, as they likewise drown in a thimble of water, hardly harmful to us by contrast, though more of a “good thing” as in the new generation super-charged nicotine derived pesticides/chemical compositions as are on the market now for agricultural use and pet products are so lethal to insects that it’s not only effective on pests but also beneficial insects such as the honey bee; much like super sizing one’s junk food. In moderation no problem at all, all depends. Problem is in terms of smoking is that, sadly, for a smoker to get their “fix” they must also take in all the toxins and other poisons that go into traditional cigarettes, some of which goes into a (closed) enviroment for others to inhale as well, thus the problems of 2nd hand smoke. Double edged sword, and why doctors for the longest time were confused, sending mixed messages–i.e., on the one hand, smoking is good for you? Well, no, it’s not; nicotine has benefits aside from being addictive yes but the rest of it most certainly is not. Same as alcohol and fast food.. A little here and there is hardly going to harm a healthy person, or at all. In fact, can be beneficial. But, as applied to junk food, if you’ve a weight problem, not into exercise or eating healthy in gereral, with a family history of heart disease and/or stroke (genetics, same goes for cancer when it comes to smoking or other environmental factors of which there are many and not just smoking traditional cigarettes alone, though if so probably not a good idea to start), then probably best to avoid fast food never mind super-sizing it. Obesity in fact is the number one health risk today, along with diabetes, stroke and heart attack (those stricken by such disease are getting younger every year). Cowboys weren’t overweight, right? Smoking curbs the appetite. All fun aside, a life style it was and that kind of advertising works–always did, and a very cool read: thanks. Curious, though, wasn’t the filter supposed to make tobacco smoking less harmful as in capture some of those carcinogens? Perhpas, but not if itself is made from asbestos or other such things themselves having harmful and deleterious effects. Ah, but since the cowboys (and cowgirls) do from time to time ride into town, carry wireless devices such as Blackberries and the like these days, might want to check out the e-cigarette while there: no harm, definitely no 2nd (or 100th) hand smoke, or at all, get the nicotine without all the rest of that junk. If you don’t smoke, don’t start (nicotine while not harmful in and of itself is addictive, which is contrary to freedom right?). But if you must or have a health issue or concern for which nicotine may be beneficial (well documented in the medical literature, see in addition to real medical reasearch), then apply the same logic and pprinciples as you would any other product or activity from a health-perspective: moderate as in reduce the harm, which is what good health and policy is in fact and has always been about. Healthy is a life-style and also means those who want to be a cowboy/cowgirl will live longer so as to partake in and see more rodeos. Of course, Big Tobacco doesn’t like the e-cig anymore than does Big Rx – healthier alternatives that actually work cut into their big profits, and many governments are of two-minds about it, can’t exactly apply the “sin taxes” on it as can/do the traditional tobacco products, thus cuts them out, too. Something very romantic in a Wild, Wild West way about that. Time to update the campaign, using the e-cig (the Marlboro Man who never lived lives on in fact!). Otherwise, awesome campaign and good to know–could very well be where all the lifestyle ad campaigns that we are all so inundated with these days and which advertisers of every product whatsoever imaginable take for granted started. Just a thought.

        Hamlet

        October 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm

  23. […] generation. Copy it down and may yours also one day be as splashed, creased and well-lined as the Marlboro Man‘s face after a hard month’s cattle drive. I bet he never ate two helpings of […]

  24. Interesting portrayal but I am afraid it has a more political portrayal than a factual one. The fact is that the entire Marlboro campaign was the ongoing evolution of a concept. Although the campaign was based on the use of photography the Marlboro man image itself evolved over time. It became more and more a western cowboy. The use of titles like marlboro Country and Mild as May and Tattoo. are not meant to signaify individual separate campaigns but to classify portions of the evolution as it proceeded. Marlboro Man was an evolving concept not a real person. In fact, a look at the back cover of Time and Life magzines on certain dates between October of 1964 and July 22nd 1967 (lLife) will reveal artistic renditions of a Marlboro Man. Illustrations. Not living Marlbioro Men at all. To suggest that one cowboy was Marlboro Man is simply not true. These illustations, centered on cowboy tack, They look like they were done parallel to the ongoing campaign to increase visibility and range. For our purpose, they show that there was no single compulsion to use any one Marlboro Man. There never was.

    Ted Nelson

    January 7, 2014 at 10:55 am

    • A very good friend of mine is the son of one of the Marlboro men. That one M.M., died a long time ago, from unrelated causes. There were many male models used over the ad campaigns course.

      SlackerSlayer

      January 28, 2014 at 5:35 am

  25. this cowboy will be remembered, and his famous face known from near and far will forever be in our thoughts.

    jaki antelope

    January 27, 2014 at 8:05 pm

  26. I live in Andy Armstrong’s house. It is said the he developed the character and later died of lung cancer.

    Bruce Lally

    April 1, 2014 at 6:25 pm

  27. […] has an advertising image been hailed as a pop culture icon. In that rarefied company of Marlboro Man and Benetto Pieta belongs this 1978 photograph by Steven Steigman, which would later be known as […]

  28. Heya are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my
    own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own
    blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

    web

    May 4, 2014 at 8:34 am

  29. Funny how liberal minded people must butt(oh yeah it’s pun) into everyone’s lifestyle. But we are not allowed to Butt into theirs though. If people want to smoke cigarettes than so be it. That is as long as they are over 18 years of age Even though the liberals are pushing 26 the new adult age. With their Obummer care scenario and all. People and I mean all people must mind their own business. You save the world types don’t want my lifestyle and I certainly don’t want yours. We all have just one life and live it the way you want too. Not as someone else see’s fit!

    Zabo

    May 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    • Where did all that come from? Seems the ones that want to control the lives of others are called conServers. The “get tougher” on many things that should be as legal as your deadly booze is legal. Trying to prevent homosexuals from doing what they do BEHIND closed doors,,, yep it is the ConServer like you that needs to butt out.

      Dr.SS

      May 16, 2014 at 7:23 pm


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