Benson & Hedges: Wikis


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Benson & Hedges are a British brand of cigarettes owned by the Gallaher Group, which became a subsidiary of Japan Tobacco in 2007. They are registered in Old Bond Street in London, and are manufactured in Lisnafillen, Ballymena, Northern Ireland for the UK and Irish markets. The cigarettes are available in Gold, Black or Silver forms, in some countries also as Green (Menthol). JTI also manufactures Hamlet cigars.



UK Benson & Hedges Silver box, with warning

Benson & Hedges was founded in 1873 by Richard Benson and William Hedges as Benson and Hedges Ltd. The company was formed to make cigarettes for the then Prince of Wales, Albert Edward. Alfred Paged Hedges succeeded his father in the business in 1885, the same year which Richard Benson left the business. The 1900s saw branches of Benson & Hedges Ltd. opening in the United States and Canada. In 1928, the American branch became independent, and was bought by Philip Morris in 1958 who also purchased the Canadian branch in 1960. Benson & Hedges Ltd in the UK was acquired by Gallaher Limited in 1955.

A Royal Warrant was issued to the British company in 1878, after the required five years of supply to the Royal Family. This was revoked in 1999 due to a "lack of demand in the royal households"[1]. The Warrant seal, which had previously been on the flip lid of the box, was removed.

In June 1977 Benson & Hedges' Gallagher was represented, along with reprepresentatives of six other major international tobacco companies, at a clandestine meeting styled 'Operation Berkshire' at Shockerwick House outside Bath, England, where a conspiracy was formed to engage in a deliberate strategy to mislead the public over the harmful effects of smoking and retard tobacco control efforts of governments and health groups: See British Medical Journal article "Operation Berkshire: The international tobacco companies' conspiracy" BMJ 2000;321:371-374 (5 August) at

In July 2009, B&H launched a gold and silver version of rolling tobacco.

Benson & Hedges brands in the UK over the last 40 years have included: Sovereign (two versions), Gold Bond, Virginia Red, and Virginia Blue.



Overseas Market

In the 1930s, Benson & Hedges (Overseas) Ltd was established by Abraham Wix to handle overseas trade. This branch was acquired by British American Tobacco in 1956. Today, British American Tobacco markets Benson & Hedges throughout Asia and the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand, but with the exception of Taiwan and the Philippines. They also own branches in the Middle East and Africa. B&H is popular amongst young smokers in Bangladesh, South Africa, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand. B&H cigarettes are also obtainable in Canada, a popular brand being "Belmonts", which are manufactured by B&H in Toronto.

Australian Market

In Australia Benson & Hedges are available in the following variations: Classic, Rich, Smooth, Subtle, Fine and Ultimate, with a small square of colour around the brand name being Red, Purple, Blue, Sky Blue, Grey and White respectively, the rest of the packaging predominantly gold.

Benson & Hedges Marketing Innovations

The American version of the cigarette is credited with starting the 1960s 100 mm craze. In 1967, the fledgling—and soon to be famous—ad agency of Wells, Rich, Greene introduced the longer cigarette with a Clio award-winning advertising campaign (Benson & Hedges 100, Television/Cinema, Best, 1967) based on the "disadvantages" of the Benson & Hedges 100s.[2][3][4] [5]

In the UK market in the late 1970s Benson & Hedges ran a notable advertising campaign which actually turned to advantage the increasing curbs on what could be said and shown in cigarette advertisements. A striking series of photomontages and cinema films, devised by Collett Dickenson Pearce at the peak of that agency's success, featured the gold pack in various surreal juxtapositions and transformations, devoid of words and people.


Cricket (Australia)

Throughout the 1980s Benson & Hedges was the major sponsor of international cricket in Australia, holding the naming rights for most of the One Day International tournaments such as the World Series Cup and the World Championship of Cricket. All sponsorship rights were relinquished when the Australian Federal government legislation banned tobacco advertising at sporting events.

Fireworks (Canada)

Throughout the 1990s Benson & Hedges sponsored the Benson & Hedges Symphony of Fire firework competitions in Canada in both Toronto, Ontario (1990-2000) and Vancouver, British Columbia (1991-2000), until tobacco advertising restrictions were legislated by the Canadian federal government. An international fireworks competition was also held for many years in Montreal under the name "L'internationale Benson & Hedges". This competition is now sponsored by Loto-Québec.


From 1996 to 2005, Benson & Hedges was the primary sponsor of Jordan Grand Prix team. At races where the ban on cigarette advertising was in force, the name was substituted with "Bitten Hisses" (during the period when Jordan's mascot was Hissing Sid), "Buzzing Hornets" (while the mascot was an un-named hornet), "Bitten Heroes" (following September 11, 2001 for one race), and latterly 'Be On Edge' (BENSON & HEDGES).

Benson & Hedges also sponsored Tony Longhurst's team between the 1980s and early 1990s in Australian Touring Car racing.

Benson & Hedges in Popular Culture/Media

They were the favourite brand of German hacker Hagbard (Karl Koch) who often used "Benson" and "Hedges" as his passwords or screen names when breaking into US computers according to Clifford Stoll's book The Cuckoo's Egg.

A sketch in Jam, a surreal comedy, involves a robber asking for a pack of "Benson and Hedges" and paying for it while pointing a gun at the store clerk. However, the hesitated clerk tells the robber to keep the cigarette pack as well as his money. Then the robber lights one on his way out and getting arrested by cops while maintaining an excited mood.

Benson & Hedges No. 5 is the cigarette of choice of the protagonist in Robert Heinlein's 'Glory Road.'

Oasis members Noel and Liam Gallagher smoked Benson and Hedges during their 90s heyday, with Noel even naming his two cats "Benson" and "Hedges". While Noel has switched brands, Liam still smokes the Gold Special Filters. Also, in the mid 1990s, Oasis released a collection of their singles up until their 2nd album "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?". The singles were sold in a special box shaped and coloured like Benson & Hedges cigarette packets.

The Lost Boys Of Penzance, a surf band from Encinitas, CA, have recorded "Disadvantages of You",[6] which was the music used for the TV commercial "Oh the disadvantages of the new Benson and Hedges 100s".

In the film Mike Bassett: England Manager, Bassett (played by Ricky Tomlinson) writes down his squad for a match against Belgium on a packet of Benson and Hedges; his PA unwittingly includes two players with the surnames Benson and Hedges to the squad. When reading the squad she mistakenly took the name of the brand for players names as all the other players had been wrote down on a discarded pack. To add to the humour, it turns out Benson and Hedges are only run of the mill 3rd division players, one of whom is 46.

A pair of twins in New Zealand were named "Benson" and "Hedges" after the brand and were cited by a New Zealand judge amongst a list of inappropriate children's names, alongside names like "Fish" and "Chips", and "Black child or nigger".[7]

In an early 1994 interview documented in Everett True's book Nirvana the Biography, Kurt Cobain stated that he smoked Benson and Hedges menthol ultra lights

Benson and Hedges are mentioned in Lùnapop's hit "Un giorno migliore".

AC/DC guitarist Angus Young is rarely seen off-stage without a Benson & Hedges cigarette in his mouth.[8]

Paul Weller, singer and guitarist from The Jam and The Style Council also smokes Benson & Hedges.[9]

The band fun. named the 2nd track off of their debut CD entitled Aim and Ignite after the product.

Mentioned several times in the chorus of the song The Hymn for the Cigarettes by British indie rock band Hefner (band): “B&H remind me of not giving up but giving in.”


External links

Simple English

File:Benson & Hedges Silver
Benson & Hedges Silver

Benson and Hedges were a cigarette manufacturer. The company were bought by the Gallaher Group The name became a brand of the Gallagher. The brand sponsored Formula One racing teams for many years.

In April 2007 Japan Tobacco bought the Gallaher Group.

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