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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Tobacco marketing and public policy in Canada, 1960-2002 : the role of sponsorship Dewhirst, Timothy


Using an interdisciplinary and multi-method approach, this thesis examines Canadian tobacco industry practices that were responses to federal advertising regulations, with a specific focus on the role that sponsorship has played. By analyzing internal industry documents publicly accessible as a result of Canadian court proceedings, it is apparent that there were two defining periods for when sports and cultural sponsorship became an increasingly important component of the promotional mix for Canadian tobacco manufacturers. First, tobacco sponsorship became more prominent during the late 1960s and early 1970s when cigarette advertising was voluntarily withdrawn from television and radio. Second, expenditures substantially increased during the late 1980s and early 1990s with the implementation of the Tobacco Products Control Act (TPCA), which severely limited conventional forms of advertising. Case studies are provided for the marketing strategies of Player's, Export 'A' and Rothmans, thus a dominant trademark from each of Canada's three principal tobacco manufacturers is represented. Each case study employs a different framework to understand the persuasive elements of cigarette promotion and the importance of message repetition, continuity, and consistency. The effectiveness of Player's promotions are made clear by integrated marketing communication efforts, while Export 'A' and Rothmans promotional activities are understood in terms of rhetoric and intertextuality, respectively. The review of industry documents discloses that the primary objectives for sponsoring events are to increase brand awareness (through continued brand exposure) and to enhance or reinforce brand image. Tobacco brands continue to gain widespread exposure on television through event sponsorship, and in effect circumvent supposed bans on broadcast advertising. In an attempt to enhance or reinforce brand imagery, tobacco firms identify sports and cultural events that possess complementary symbolic properties, seeking a transfer of the imagery associated with the event, participants or sponsorship partners to the sponsoring cigarette trademark. Content analysis is a second research methodology employed in order to assess whether the character of the content of Canadian tobacco promotions has changed as a result of the TPCA's implementation. This thesis examines the consistent or changing nature of advertising content as the tobacco industry's marketing strategy shifted from traditional product advertising to sponsorship. This is done by comparing the content of print media promotions from the pre-TPCA era (1973-1988) with those from the post- TPCA era (1989-2002). It was found that Player's and Export 'A' represent two Canadian trademarks that have been effectively positioned toward the "starters" segment. Player's is positioned as a symbol of masculinity, independence, freedom, self-reliance, tradition, and modernity. The trademark attributes and personality of Export 'A' are masculinity, ruggedness, independence, self-determinedness, adventurousness, and escapism. Rothmans has been promoted as an expression of internationalism, premium quality, upward status and tradition, yet youth widely perceive the trademark as unpopular, 'old', and lacking contemporaneous. It is demonstrated that the Player's trademark is particularly effective in its communication strategies, abiding by key promotional principles relating to message repetition, continuity, consistency, and relevance.

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