In 1993, cigarette maker Marlboro rolled out the Marlboro Adventure Team which was essentially a tobacco tinged lifestyle brand that promoted campy outdoor activities via branded merchandise that could be obtained from a catalog with “Marlboro Miles”. A trip down the rabbit hole reveals some pretty weird content like the video below.
The odd choice of trance music in the video is just as fitting as the odd pairing of the rugged outdoor life and cigarette smoking. Marlboro was trying to market an active living brand while pushing a product that would ultimately someday, ironically, make you too sick to use the very merchandise it was marketing. For example, I recently found the foldable Fuji Marlboro branded mountain bike at my local thrift store. Back then, you would save your cigarette pack proofs of purchase and turn that into Marlboro merchandise via the Marlboro Miles catalog. The real diehards could even get invited to group camping outings like the odd video depicted above. The Los Angeles Times even tried to report on one of these secretive outings in a piece in 2004 to the dismay of those in attendance.
End of Marlboro Miles
The major 1998 tobacco settlement was the beginning of the end of this type of advertising for tobacco companies as the real ethical angle of big tobacco’s impact made this type of marketing seem even more outlandish. The program was completely over by 2006.
A Revival of the Merchandise?
Enough time has passed that the irony of Marlboro outdoor merchandise is just too rich for hipsters and hypebeasts to resist, and now, it has become quite popular in the reselling community and among vintage fashion collectors. John Mayer even posted about his Marlboro merchandise with disclaimer.
The site Gem profiled a super collector of this merchandise. High Snobiety also noted the revival of this merchandise in a well written piece last year. From the reseller angle, you will definitely spot this merchandise at thrift stores on occasion and if priced right, it will re-sell easily. I myself found the bag in the John Mayer social media post two years ago and re-sold it for double what I paid for it. The trend is not surprising given how popular 90’s vintage clothing is with Gen Y and younger millennials, in combination with the trend toward outdoor wear and gear in general. The irony is just too rich.