Seattle none too happy to be in Camel's new ad campaign, either

By David Kiefaber on Tue Dec 7 2010

Camel

Looks like Brooklyn's borough leaders aren't the only ones annoyed with R.J. Reynolds' new cityscape packaging for Camel. Seattle isn't happy that it's part of the cigarette brand's hipster scavenger hunt, either. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire says she was "alarmed and disappointed at R.J. Reynolds' new marketing campaign which exploits the name and image of Seattle to recruit young smokers." He should be more offended by Camel's description of Seattle, which is referred to as the "home of grunge, a coffee revolution and alternatives who'll probably tell you they're happy when it rains," followed by some gibberish about "the spirit of our Gold Rush ancestors." I don't know what out-of-touch cat lady wrote that copy, but Seattle hasn't been suspended in time since 1994. Also, San Francisco's Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is ragging on RJR for its inclusion of the Haight. This is something the company should have expected and planned ahead for—not only did they look clueless before, they look like jerks now for continuing the campaign amid so many understandable complaints. They'd better figure out some kind of damage control before an offended city government does more than blow smoke.

Camel trying really hard to be cool with Williamsburg packaging

By David Kiefaber on Fri Nov 12 2010

Camel

R.J. Reynolds has been successful at marketing to children, however indirectly, but its efforts to hook those twentysomething and older are usually pathetic and weird. Its latest idea—putting the skylines of famous hipster spots like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Camel cigarette packaging—is pandering to the youth in ways that even Tom Wolfe would laugh at. The promotional material includes classic lines like, "It's about last call, a sloppy kiss goodbye and a solo saunter to a rock show in an abandoned building," and promises "serious street cred" for anyone who responds to their new packaging. Do they really expect this to work? People who aren't already hipsters tend to hate them (sometimes irrationally), and hipsters are by and large freeloaders who will smoke anything. Brand loyalty isn't something they engage in on any measurable scale. On the other hand, Brooklyn's reaction wasn't any better. Borough president Marty Markowitz responded to this in the lamest way possible, remarking that "when we say that Williamsburg and Brooklyn are smokin', we mean smokin' hot—not smokin' cigarettes!" Great. Any resident smoker under 35 who hears that is going to switch to Camels now just to piss him off.

Does Big Tobacco seriously think it can turn the tide with 'snus'?

Posted on Wed Jun 3 2009

Snus

In case you haven't noticed, it's a rotten time to be a tobacco marketer. So bad that the government recently accused the tobacco giants of fraud and racketeering for positioning their light, mild and medium products as better for you than regular ol' smokes. Well, they aren't. Cigarettes are terrible for you no matter what (which the American Legacy Foundation does a great job reminding us in its latest round of its scared-straight "Truth" ads). That's why tobacco marketers are now pushing hard behind "snus." R.J. Reynolds is calling these "spitfree" pouches of smokeless tobacco "freedom for smokers." The only problem is, they "may cause gum disease and tooth loss." To turn smokers onto its Snus Frost and Snus Mellow, RJR is giving the product away free with a purchase of any tobacco product. You, of course, need the coupon that comes glued to its recent print ads. I just wonder how long it will be before the government brings the hammer down on the snus or American Legacy begins attacking them in ads. I even have a tagline ready: "You snus, you lose."

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

'Playboy' and Skoal making sticky, brown, weird love together

Posted on Wed Dec 17 2008

Playboyskoal

There's so much that's odd about the Beauty and the Beast-esque partnership between Playboy and Skoal—it's hard to know where to begin.
  The 12-page co-branded Skoal mini-magazine, which is being included with Playboy's 55th anniversary issue in January, makes sense on a basic level: Dippers are mostly men, and Playboy is mostly a men's magazine. Still, it's jarring to see the Playmates lounging around with the Skoal props. Women not named Gretchen Wilson notoriously flee from chewing tobacco. They don't take off their clothes and roll around in tins of the stuff. Nor do they go fishing with their giant green Skoal-tin chairs. (That's a lot of tobacco in those chairs.)
  Hopefully the editorial content will go some way toward redeeming the enterprise, although the sample page sent to the press isn't that encouraging. It's a page of party jokes supplied by Skoal dippers, and the only one that's halfway amusing happens to underscore the disgusting nature of the dipping habit: "Q. What do you get when you sit in the back of the truck when someone is spitting out the front window? A. Freckles."

—Posted by Tim Nudd


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