Phillip Morris is back. After taking partial cover with a new corporate identity, The Wall Street Journal reports that Phillip Morris International is about to be spun out as a separate company by Altria Group. It will be the world's largest nongovernmental tobacco company. The move would free the tobacco giant's international operations of legal and public-relations headaches in the U.S. that have hindered its growth.
The article focuses on the 'good news.'
The separate entity...would be exempt from U.S. tobacco regulations and out of reach of American litigators. Importantly, its practices would no longer be constrained by American public opinion, paving the way for broad product experimentation.
So welcome world to Marlboro Intense (and talk about buzz marketing); Heatbar and PMI-owned stores to introduce the device to smokers; Marlboro Wides; the Tobacco Block System; Marlboro Mix 9 - sweet smelling cigarettes with tobacco, cloves and flavorings - and twice the tar and nicotine of a typical US cigarette; Marlboro Filter Plus; and Chinese cigarette brands marketed in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Latin America. With market share of 5.2 trillion smokes a year at stake, product innovation has been unleashed.
China, with 350 million smokers, Pakistan, Ukraine, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Germany all get special mention in the article as being in PMI's marketing cross hairs.
Future products in the PMI pipeline will feature unusual packaging, a response to limits on cigarette advertising imposed by the WHO antitobacco treaty...Fancier packs are intended to lure smokers into paying a premium for the company's brands.
The losers? American suppliers of tobacco to PMI. And the 1 in 10 adults worldwide who die of a tobacco-related disease each year.*
* about 5 million/year and counting... Looks like the Bloomberg Global Initiative on Tobacco may need reinforcements.