Philip Morris sticks with Marlboro

Tobacco company Philip Morris has taken the unusual step of not rebranding its Marlboro cigarette packs under a new name in the UK, following new legislative requirements. Instead it will drop the descriptive terminology from packs to comply with a European ban.

Industry sources say the move could give the company an advantage over its competitors. Rivals have been forced to change their cigarette brand names because of the ban on tobacco descriptives, without any means of communicating the rebranding to consumers.

One source says Marlboro is the only brand able to rely on the strength of its iconic packaging: “People will be asking for Marlboro Lights for years to come as there is no alternative name. Other brands will be referred to as a colour, but Marlboro gets to keep its brand pretty much intact.”

Philip Morris, which distributes its cigarettes in the UK through Imperial Tobacco, has shifted the Lights label to the side of packs – ahead of a complete removal before the deadline in October. Wholesalers expect to be fully compliant with brand packaging by mid-August.

Rival tobacco business Gallaher has chosen colour descriptives for its Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut brands, and textures such as Smooth

and Refined for Camel (MW March 27). British American Tobacco has also rebranded with colour-coding: Lucky Strike variants will be known as Red and Silver, while Rothmans will be relabelled Blue, Red and Gold for the various tobacco strengths.

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