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October, 2008

SMOKE Magazine - Cigars, Pipes, and life's other desires

Gimmicks or Innovations?

Santa Fe Tobacco’s American Spirits has undoubtedly been the most successful brand launch of the past few decades - at least as far as Western markets have been concerned. Its promises of “additive-free” smokes was hitting the market as youthful, educated consumers started searching for products that had a less industrial vibe (the brand also was branded “organic,” but had to alter that message in the US market, and now in Germany - see Public Affairs, Page 43). The brand’s youthful target demographic was one that not only eschews typical industrial products, but one that doesn’t tune into the typical outlets of radio, film, and TV, which in many markets have been barred for tobacco advertisements. For American Spirits, this turned out to be an opportunity. The AS demographic is social and outgoing. This allowed for AS to get their message across avenues such as event sponsorship, which is still allowed in many Western markets. Many music concerts, theatrical events, and art openings have been sponsored by cigarette brands, big and small, in urban areas around the world - it’s one avenue of direct-to-consumer communication that hasn’t been shut down yet. And it’s one that American Spirits and their “additive-free” message have taken full advantage of - and as it turns out, to great success.

The additive-free message has been noticed by others in the industry, such as by the German Poschl Tabak company’s new Pueblo brand additive-free cigarettes (where “Pueblo” is associated with the Native Americans of the Southwest - say, near Santa Fe - and even Pueblo’s blue and yellow packaging owes a lot to the AS look). Also out of Deutschland comes German Tobacco Company’s S.A.L.E. Black which takes on the “no-additive” claim with the addition of a carbon-filter. Many of these additive-free campaigns have nothing to do with a healthier cigarette (often, these brands are forced to admit that these are not “safer smokes”), but have to do with a back-to-basics, non-industrial, organic, green, lifestyle. This is a message that appeals to young smokers and one that may be able to launch as a new brand. Will any of these other additive-free newcomers take on the popularity of American Spirits? Only time will tell.

- Evan D. Dashevsky

Tobacco International - October, 2008

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