Project Lighthouse, Philip Morris 1993

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Philip Morris' Project Lighthouse was an effort to develop an "alternative" cigarette brand that would appeal to those counterculture young adult male smokers (YAMS) that the company was unable to capture with its popular Marlboro brand. PM recognized that some younger, non-mainstream smokers' disdain for Marlboro's mass appeal and ubiquity was causing them to avoid Marlboro, but to help maintain its market share into the future, PM realized it had to attract these smokers. PM undertook the project in 1993 to address the resurgence of the Camel brand, which R.J. Reynolds re-launched in 1987 using its irreverent and rebellious "Joe Camel" graphic, which had made RJR more successful at capturing young adult male smokers at the expense of Marlboro. Camel then became more mainstream, providing a strategic shift that also created a market opportunity for a new "Alternative Brand."

For Project Lighthouse, PM planned to take a brand that had long been popular in Europe called "Navy Cut," and turn it into a "alternative brand" that they would position for the "rebel YAM."

The Communication Strategy for Navy Cut was to

Convince YAMS, who reject the mass appeal of Marlboro and are predisposed to a non-mainstream alternative such as Camel, that by smoking Navy Cut, they stand apart from the crowd because Navy Cut is a self assured, unknown brand with a unique and noticeable pack that they themselves have discovered.

A PM business plan for the brand said it was "Critical [that the brand] be perceived as an underground, rebel brand." The plan said advertising should shun magazines like "People," "Sports Illustrated" and "Time" for magazines like "Buzz," "Creem" and Street Sound." PM considered advertising the brand through graffiti, sidewalk stenciling and rock band-type posters. [1]

Related SourceWatch resources


  1. JT, PNC, Philip Morris Project Lighthouse Business Plan November 22, 1993. 14 pp. Bates No. 2056046646/6659

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