Branding the Riders:" Marlboro Country" and the Formation of a New Middle Class in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey Academic Article uri icon


  • In this article, we use the metaphor of "Marlboro Country," and Philip Morris's real-life effort to promote it, to discuss the shaping of new middle classes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey in an age of newfound wealth and economic liberalism. We show how Marlboro Country was localized to fit each environment, reflecting an implicit dialogue (through market research) between this multinational company and potential consumers. We argue that in Marlboro Country a new kind of global citizen-consumer was envisioned, together with his modern, universal, urban, and young life-style, albeit with a touch of localism. This citizen-consumer's global aspirations for American-style standards of living were harnessed, packaged and sold in the dream of Marlboro Country, but without the cultural or political baggage of Americanism. Documentation based on company archives allows an insider gaze into Philip Morris's global selling strategy, local brand adaptations, and its interaction with social transition in the emergence of mass consumer societies in the Middle East.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008