GRSJ 300 – Culture Jam

The advertisement above is for Marlboro cigarettes and it features one of the Malboro Men, a figure used in their advertising campaigns from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. The Marlboro Man is one of the most powerful brand images ever created and is known worldwide as the symbol of masculinity. This was no mistake as he was meant to the first in a line of manly characters, which included masculine figures like weightlifters and sea captains, that would appear on Marlboro’s cigarette boxes. This was due to Marlboro’s new marketing strategy that changed their target segment from women to men. The reason they changed was that increased research showed that cigarettes were harmful and so cigarette companies starting attaching filters which were supposedly safer. Filtered cigarettes were thought of as being for women, and so Marlboro capitalised on the opportunity to create a manly cigarette. One year after the original cowboy design was released, Marlboro’s market share rose from almost nothing to being one of the best-selling brands. Since then Marlboro decided to stick with the cowboy, adopting the mascot of ruggedness and masculinity.

This will be the problem that I am addressing in my culture jam. I will be touching on the use of gender roles to sell products, focusing on the plight of men. This is a well-known issue when it comes to women, but I find that men are often overlooked and society now just accepts that men are supposed to be a certain way. I find this to be very dangerous thinking as I’m sure it has affected the well-being of many men who cannot or do not want to conform to what society expects them to be.


I did not need to add much to my culture jammed ad as my message is very simple. It plays on the idea of men being fearless and courageous. My purpose behind this was to almost make it seem like men were being guilted into smoking. The line “Real men don’t fear death” was added to show the absurdity of this concept. Breaking it down, the “real men” portion was to emphasize the masculinity of the product and I felt that it went well with the rest of the line “don’t fear death”. The fear of death is something I think is universal among all humans, thus this line hardly makes sense. As we all know now cigarettes are extremely harmful to our health, and often lead to death or other serious health conditions. My slogan is meant to emphasize that, almost saying that real men do not care about their own lives by smoking our product, and that lack of fear and concern makes them manly. I think my jammed ad also represents the same lack of fear and concern that these cigarettes have for the lives of their customers. They knowingly pedal harmful products and even produce evidence that says that they are not that dangerous. What I think makes this jammed ad even more relevant is that many of the Marlboro Men used in these ads are now dead due to smoking-related diseases. Had I been more proficient with Photoshop I would have liked to alter the face of the Malboro Man, to make him look more sickly and unhealthy in order to show that this “real man” never quit.