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Philip Morris Explains Price Cuts In New Direct Mail Campaign

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CHICAGO - Philip Morris' commitment to its price cuts and promotions is putting Leo Burnett Co.'s integrated capabilities to the test.
Beginning Aug. 9, Burnett will launch what may be the largest single direct-mail effort ever from one advertiser. Drawing on its massive database compiled from years of promotional responses, Philip Morris intends to send letters to 'a majority' of the nation's 50 million cigarette smokers. The letters will not contain coupons; instead they will explain the permanent price cuts on its premium brands - Marlboro, Merit, Benson & Hedges, Virginia Slims and Parliament - that it announced last week.
'The letter is informational,' rather than promotional, said Ellen Merlo, Phillip Morris vp-corporate affairs. 'It acknowledges that economic times are tough, explains what we did (with pricing) and tells consumers to look for lower prices on our premium brands.'
She said the program 'is probably the single largest mailing the U.S. has seen other than income tax forms and maybe the (Donnelley Marketing's) Carol Wright coupon program. It's certainly the largest direct-mail program Philip Morris has ever done.'
Burnett claims it hasn't had to hire extra personnel to handle its promotions and direct marketing capabilities as a result of the extra work from the estimated $200-million Marlboro Adventure Team promotion, but insiders say the agency's work has shifted dramatically from print executions to atypical promotional and direct work.
Burnett executives wouldn't comment. An agency spokesperson would say only that it has 'rotated 1,000 people through our (integrated planning) disciplines. On any given day, a creative may spend two hours on a print ad, three hours on something else, and two hours on something else.'
Merlo said that 2 million people have ordered Adventure Team merchandise so far and estimated a total of 9 million are saving points and will eventually order.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)