Marlboro, Philip Morris’ flagship, is the largest and best selling cigarette brand in the world. And even though we are all aware of their famous cowboy ads, few of us actually know what’s the origin of their weird name.
In fact, there have been many theories on what ‘Marlboro’ actually means. The most popular (and ridiculous) myth is that Marlboro is owned by Ku Klux Klax and the name was chosen because of this hidden message: if you turn the package upside down the first three letters will read ‘jeW’ while the remaining letters will read ‘orodl’ which sounds like ‘horrible’, hence the name Marlboro was chosen because somehow it means ‘horrible Jew’:
I don’t think i have to explain why this makes no sense at all, but if you are interested in learning more about this i suggest this excellent fact-check article by Snopes. So, from where did Marlboro get its name? (the article continues after the ad)
Back in the mid-19th century, Phillip Morris, the founder of the company, was selling rolled cigarettes and tobacco in a shop he opened up in Bond Street, London. However, when he died in 1873 and his relatives took over, they grew the business to the point that they needed a factory in order to mass produce their products. That factory was located on Great Marlborough Street, London. That’s why, when they launched their new brand of cigarettes in 1885 they named them Marlborough, after the street. By the way, this new Marlborough brand was marketed as the ‘ladie’s favorite’ cigarette. A few decades later, in 1924, when they developed the unfiltered version of Marlborough, the name changed to the more simple Marlboro (still named after the street).
Interestingly, Marlboro was still marketed as the ‘female brand’ of the company up until the 1950s when Leo Burnett’s ingenious (and on the best ad campaigns ever), advertising gave a ‘macho’ approach to the brand by using the famous cowboy as the marlboro man.