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Philip Morris completes its rebranding to Altria Group

NEW YORK: Philip Morris' long-awaited rebranding as Altria was finally executed last week. The change was made to emphasize the fact that the company produces a wide range of products other than tobacco.

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Altria is derived from the Latin word for "high." The company said it chose the name to highlight its strong performance.

Altria is now the parent firm of Philip Morris USA, Philip Morris International, and Kraft Foods. Altria holds about an 84% stake in Kraft, which markets such products as Oreo cookies and Oscar Meyer packaged deli meats. The company also holds a minority stake in SABMiller, the world's second largest brewer, which owns Miller Beer.

Altria said it has been hard at work developing a comprehensive communications strategy for the name change. The campaign involved a blend of all the major marketing disciplines, including PR. The company worked closely with agency of record Burson-Marsteller during the name change.

"Now that we have finally launched, we are going to work to communicate the identity of Altria Group as the parent company of these other brands," said Davis Tovar, a spokesman for the company. "And so our earned media should be about getting people to understand that structure."

The holding company said that because it will have limited interaction with consumers, its target audience is primarily the financial community and opinion leaders.

"This was not as consumer-focused an effort as it might have been for some of our operating units, such as Kraft."

The company also said that in the next few weeks, it expects to get media appearances for the CEO, who will talk about the name change.

This article was first published on PR Week USA

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