Date of Award

Spring 2005

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Wolburg, Joyce

Second Advisor

Garner, Ana

Third Advisor

Pokrywczynski, James

Abstract

Throughout the years, the marketing of a company's products and services has progressed from mass marketing - general promotional messages that attempt to attract as many different types of people as possible - to the more focused practice of segmentation. With segmentation, marketers are able to individually tailor their messages in order to appeal to a specific target audience, thereby increasing the likelihood of advertising effectiveness. The determination of a target audience can be based on several factors - race, gender, income, education, age, etc. - and this process enables a company to recognize whom they would like to reach and the best possible way of doing so. Past researchers have found that targeted messages featuring members of a target audience, as well as verbal and nonverbal cues recognized by said audience, are most successful at reaching and increasing the desirability of a product for most target audiences. A large amount of research has been conducted throughout the years pertaining to how these targeted groups have been presented within advertisements, especially African-Americans and women. However, the bulk of these studies have involved a critical dissection of the roles portrayed or the language used within the advertisements; research into how marketers specifically communicate with certain target audiences has largely been avoided. An examination of the marketing strategies used by tobacco companies to reach two distinct target audiences allows greater understanding and recognition of the tactics and themes most frequently employed by companies when advertising to these populations. Subsequently, such an investigation also yields insights into the incongruities perceived by an industry to exist between the values and weaknesses of various target markets. With this research, I hope to shed some light on the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry in order to better recognize, understand, and communicate the ways in which African-American and Caucasian women have been targeted by their marketing messages. I believe that this information would be both valuable and fascinating, especially when considering the social contexts of the last four decades. While it is certainly every human being's right to consume tobacco products, cigarettes are undeniably detrimental to human health and have faced various battles throughout the years, ranging from the types of advertising that tobacco companies are allowed to produce to the rapidly decreasing number of locations where consumption is even allowed. Under these circumstances, convincing people to start smoking or switch brands has become increasingly more challenging. Therefore, a better understanding of how they have been marketed - both then and now - is necessary.

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