Project Feline

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

Project Feline was a British American Tobacco (BAT) company project to study what visual cues mean to smokers, and use these cues to further market cigarettes.

A 1991 marketing research report titled "Project Feline Qualitative Research Presentation" prepared for BAT explores what visual cigarette design cues mean to smokers. For example, the report states that "longer [filter] tips are associated with lower tar, milder cigarettes" and are seen as being for the "more health conscious" smokers. Shorter, thicker cigarettes are associated with cheaper, harsher brands; paler paper suggests mildness, and darker tobacco indicates strength.

The report also discusses various types of smokers, starting with

1. ADDICT [handwritten in: "hard smoker"]

  • Total dependence, physical and mental.
  • 40+ a day, smoked evenly throughout the day.
  • Cigarette for breakfast, even in the bath/bed.
  • Always have a pack handy.
  • Generally brand loyal but will smoke anything if desperate.

The "habitual smoker" is described as "more self-controlled than addict" (and at this point, the word "addict" is crossed out and the words "hard smoker" are handwritten in.).

While not written directly by a tobacco company, this document the acknowledges the existence of such classifications as "addicted smokers" and "reluctant smokers" without acknowledging the detriment these situations have on their consumers. The document appears to classify consumers this way for purposes of further marketing to them and profiting from their inability to quit. The report also recognizes that "health conscious" smokers are basing their choice of cigarette brands on nebulous assumptions and beliefs about visual characteristics of cigarettes rather than any factual information about how cigarettes really affect their health. [1]

References

  1. Marketing Improvements Group, PLC Project Feline Qualitative Research Presentation" prepared for British American Tobacco October, 1991. 53 pp. BAT Bates No. 303582082/2134

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