Archetype Project

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

The Archetype Project, initiated in 1991 by Philip Morris, was an effort to study the emotional reasons why people smoke, presumably so the company could better leverage these emotions in advertising and promotions. In 1991, Carolyn J. Levy (then of PM's Marketing Research department) contracted with a company called Rapaille Associates run by G. Clotaire Rapaille to interview people about their first experiences with smoking. Many of the people interviewed reported that these experiences occurred when they were between 4 and 9 years old. Rapaille noted that typically peoples' first experience with smoking involved seeing an admired adult do it, and having the feeling that they were excluded from the activity, and they strongly wanted to be included. Rapaille ultimately linked smoking with adult initiation rituals, risk taking, bonding with peers, the need for kids to feel like they belong to a group and can partake in an "adult activity." The study states:

The first imprinting of smoking is that adults do it, and I'm excluded...A critical element at this stage is the fact that the individual is on the 'outside,' excluded..."

Based on the findings, the report made the following recommendations to PM's marketing department:

Recommendations based on the Archetype: Stress that smoking is for adults only. Make it difficult for minors to obtain cigarettes. Continue having smoking perceived as a legitimate, albeit morally ambiguous adult activity. Smoking should occupy the middle ground between activities that everyone can partake in vs. activities that only the fringe of society embraces. Stress that smoking is dangerous. Smoking is for people who like to take risks, who are not afraid of taboos, who take life as an adventure to prove themselves. Emphasize the ritualistic elements of smoking, particularly fire and smoke. Emphasize the individualism/conformity dichotomy Stress the popularity of a brand, that choosing it will reinforce your identity AND your integration into the group.

The document about PM's Archetype Project explains why PM advertises widely that it supports preventing youth smoking. Aside from the political advantages PM's "youth smoking prevention" programs confer on the company (such as creating goodwill with legislators, and fostering the belief PM is sufficiently regulating itself),[1] PM's Archetype Project explains why PM feels comfortable implementing "kids shouldn't smoke" campaigns: the more the company can project a finger-wagging, forbidden-fruit, "adults-only"-type message about smoking, the more this will stimulate kids to smoke.

Carolyn J. Levy, the PM scientist who headed the Archetype Project (and who had experience studying both addiction and youth marketing), was appointed the first head of PM's Youth Smoking Prevention department in 1993.[2][3] [4][5]

Document resources

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