Written by Stefanie Kilts

Who is the Marlboro Man?

Who is the Marlboro Man? by Stefanie Kilts

'They don't really have a name, they just have a face.' - Cici Kinney, Marlboro producer

The genius behind the Marlboro Man campaign was the enduring mystery behind one of the most well-known faces of the American West. Philip Morris and Leo Burnett’s agency carefully crafted this mysterious character so that they would remain nameless; the Marlboro Men signed confidentiality agreements that forbade them from disclosing details of their time as models.

'It’s in their face, it’s in their eyes, it’s in their hands.' - Cici Kinney, Marlboro producer

In the early 80s, Cici Kinney went on the road for two years to find a new Marlboro Man. Her criteria included: real rancher or cowboy who knew how to rope, ride and handle livestock, a height of about 6″ tall, handsome, chiseled features with blue eyes a “plus” and the right body language that would translate well in photos.

Although names of the Marlboro Men eventually leaked out and articles were written about them, the faces behind some of the most-recognized imagery of the past century did not achieve fame and fortune beyond their contracts with Philip Morris.