Project XG

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

Project XG was an R.J. Reynolds effort to pursue young, poorly-educated, low-income smokers and help assure the company's future cigarette sales by targeting a new brand at them. "Project XG" was RJR's attempt to market a cigarette that would "replace Marlboro as the most relevant brand among young adults smokers."

This 64-page report on the project complains that "Marlboro has become everybody's brand--it's the Coke, Jack Daniels and Budweiser of cigarettes." According to the document, Project XG was aimed squarely at Marlboro's young, poorly-educated and low-income demographic group: "75% with no education beyond high school, primarily blue/open collar workers...long-term earning potential of this group will be low to middle income."

RJR's psychographic profile of this young group concludes that they are "In a 'stage of transition'-- they have left the family nest (security) but have not fully accepted the adult world (insecurity)."

Themes for advertising Project XG targeted the group's insecurities by making them feel independent, powerful and socially successful:

The primary objective of the copy is to appeal emotionally to the target via visuals projecting a feeling of freedom and independence via symbols that capture the mood and feeling of power, excitement, movement and exhilaration. The cigarette supports the role of being in charge, doing one's thing...

Describing how to target this group with emotionally powerful ad copy, the paper states,

The primary role of the copy will be to appeal in an intense and emotional way to the target via visuals that depict moments of mature social interaction between strong and independent personalities. These moments will be provocative, intense and introspective as well as emotionally and electrically charged. The cigarette and smoking act become the relevant focal point of the moment captured.

The document also points out the importance of young, insecure low wage-earners to the future of cigarette sales: (From Page 45):

YAS [Young adult smokers] have been the critical factor in the growth/decline of every brand/company in the past 50 years ... Only 5% of smokers start after age 24. ...Value of a loyal 18 year old smoker appreciates +30% over time due to increase in rate/day ... Because YAS are critical the short and long term growth, they represent the most important area of opportunity for new RJR ...

The paper later gives a name for Project XG: Magna.[1]

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  1. R.J. Reynolds Project XG: Emotional Intensity Marketing document. 1984. 64 pp. Bates No. 503639519/9582