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Philip Morris International - Corporate Reputation Campaign

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Company:Philip Morris International, London, United Kingdom
Entry Submitted By: other, London, United Kingdom
Company Description: other is the agency of the untrodden path. Our clients already know how to do the tried and trusted and look for us for the new, unexpected and better. We provide creative ways to make the most of communications and business opportunities. We create smarter content across a range of digital and traditional media.
Nomination Category: Marketing Campaign Categories - Industry
Nomination Sub Category: Marketing Campaign of the Year - Corporate Reputation / Professional Services

Nomination Title: Philip Morris Makes a New Year's Resolution to Give Up Cigarettes

Tell the story of this nominated marketing campaign for the judges (up to 650 words). Describe the genesis, planning, execution, and results to date of your campaign.

‘Our new year’s resolution: we’re trying to give up cigarettes’

Philip Morris International made worldwide headlines when this campaign ran in the UK in January 2018. Although it only appeared in three newspapers, it achieved global TV, radio, print and online coverage. It represents the first corporate advertising by a tobacco company in the UK in decades and has had a huge reputational impact, significantly raising awareness of PMI’s goal to stop selling cigarettes and replace them with safer alternatives. The advertisements directed smokers to a new website – - and highlighted PMI’s “New Year commitments” to help move towards its smoke-free objectives.

This marked the opening of a long-term Smoke-Free Future campaign to help create a smoke-free UK where no-one needs cigarettes.

It’s an example of a major international company taking bold steps to move from its core activity towards a more sustainable business model – though PMI would be first to acknowledge that it still has a long way to go. And it shows how effective a low-budget campaign when the message and creative approach are powerful.

· Incredible achievement for a company in this sector to achieve positive coverage.
· Massive international impact for a campaign based on a week’s activity in one country – worth many times the spend and that could not be bought at any price.
· Hugely positive for corporate image, beginning to get people to reassess a company in a sector which generally has a poor reputation.
· Industry leadership – showing companies with reputational issues that it’s possible to take positive actions and embark on change.
· Communicated a difficult but necessary message of change over time rather than overnight transformation.
· Bravery of making a public pledge to stop selling cigarettes.
· Pioneering approach and creative treatment allied with great simplicity.
· Drove smokers to a new website about how to quit or to switch to less harmful alternatives.


Philip Morris International (PMI) owns many well-known cigarette brands. But for how long? In 2016, Andre Calantzopoulos, the CEO, surprised the sector by setting a global ambition for PMI to stop selling cigarettes and provide safer alternatives. PMI has invested billions in less harmful alternatives like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco that offer better options for smokers who continue to smoke.

Some sceptical coverage was expected, especially as PMI cannot simply stop selling cigarettes overnight, which would see smokers switch to rival brands. So the corporate advertisement contained specific commitments that the company would take as the next steps towards achieving its smoke-free ambitions.


For smokers, it can be difficult to quit altogether. But it’s not easy for a major company to move away from selling its core product either. PMI understands the smokers’ perspective: many smokers use the tradition of making a New Year’s Resolution to give up cigarettes. So PMI used that day to outline its own New Year’s Resolution too.

Visually, the advertisement was professional but simple: no imagery, no branding, just plain words – in part to avoid any potential accusations that the advertisement was in any way promoting its products.

The words explained a complex issue in straightforward language with clear pledges – not easy, as everything had to go through intense legal scrutiny.


The Sunday Times, The Sun and The Daily Mirror. The mould-breaking nature of the campaign meant that prior discussions with editors around the campaign and coverage took place.


Phenomenal: more than 500 media pieces across the world, almost all positive in tone. A large number even featured the ad itself. We’ve provided links to examples.

The list includes prominent national and international news channels, papers and sites in Europe, the US, Asia and Australia, such as:

Bild (Germany) – Front page
USA Today
Times of India
Huffington Post
Daily Star
Daily Mail

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief features and results of the nominated campaign (up to 150 words).

* Prominently featured by news organisations on four continents.
* If it were possible to buy the coverage at all, its value would represent a return on investment estimated at 41x.
* The combined viewing and circulation figures for the channels, sites and publications that featured the story are bigger than the entire population of the UK, the only country in which the campaign actually appeared.
* Prompted a widespread discussion of PMI’s goal to stop selling cigarettes in many countries.
* It raised awareness amongst smokers of alternatives to smoking that could help them quit, directing them to a new informational website,
* Started a debate that continues to grow.
* Part of a pioneering commitment to change backed by an investment of billions that’s without precedent.
* Specifics included achieving front-page coverage on publications such as Bild, Germany’s most popular tabloid.