Written by Stefanie Kilts

The Marlboro Man and The New West

The Marlboro Man and The New West by Stefanie Kilts

The most powerful brand image of the last century, the Marlboro Man stands as a worldwide symbol of the American cowboy and the West. This transmedia project, The Marlboro Man and the New West, will look at both the myth of the iconic image of the cowboy and the reality of the New West for traditional ranching families, cowboys and cowgirls.

The film, to be completed in 2015, will center around stories of a Marlboro photographer, Norm Clasen, and producer, Cici Kinney, and their decades of working on one of the largest advertising campaigns of all time. All of the original Marlboro photography featured in this film was taken by Clasen and will illustrate the changing landscape of the West.

Over the next year, we will interview some of the original Marlboro cowboys and key figures on working ranches where the photo shoots for the ads took place to create a final documentary that will shed light on America’s fascination with the cowboy and the reality of the hardships facing the “modern cowboy.”

Many of the U.S. and Canada’s working cattle ranches, centered around Alberta, Texas, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Hawaii and Arizona, are disappearing or struggling to survive. The traditional working cattle ranch faces a number of pressures: the shifting of families and matriarchs/children taking over, cattle prices, water rights, land use and competition from larger cattle operations.

Check back for updates on this project as we weave together stories, video, photography and aerial film of the Marlboro shoots and the remaining working cattle ranches of the West in addition to including updates on social media platforms.