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Cigarette brands: Wikis

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Brands in the tobacco industry have a more profound meaning than in almost any other category because smokers are both famously loyal and are willing to stake their lives on these products.
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It is not surprising then, that the tobacco Industry has a long tradition of putting their product "on the couch" and that psychoanalytical insight is reflected in the brands and most of their advertising.
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The first recorded instance was in 1922 when A.A. Brill, Sigmund Freud’s American translator analyzed Lucky Strike for American Tobacco. This was orchestrated by PR man, E.L. Bernays and its conclusions are still reflected in the world of smoking and key brands today. Brill noted that smoking was a symbol of liberation for women (hence Virginia Slims and “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby”) and also suggested its initiation function.
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Initiation, particularly for teens, is a key issue for tobacco companies because most committed smokers begin between the ages of 13-18. It became a major part of the modern brand when, in 1947, Ernest Dichter (a psychoanalytically trained market researcher who later became known through Vance Packard’s “Hidden Persuaders”) wrote “Why People Smoke” to enlighten frightened tobacco execs who were reeling from the publicity of the first Cancer Scare that occured in the 1940’s when Alton Ochsner announced his initial epidemiological studies linking smoking to lung ailments.
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Instead of talking about the safety issues such as the Camel ad which exclaimed, “More Doctors Smoke Camel Than Any Other Cigarette” or Old Gold’s “Not a Cough In Carload,” he noted that smoking was a purely psychological experience that eased peoples yearnings and had deep cultural and religious underpinnings with initiation into adulthood being a significant part of it.
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George Weissman, a Philip Morris executive with an Ivy league education and wartime experience as a naval lieutenant, was inspired by this and hired a great designer, Gianinoto along with packaging psychology researcher Louis Cheskin to help him develop a new brand that was a reinvention of an obsolete woman’s brand named Marlboro.
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The Great Cancer scare of the 1950’s was in full swing and Weissman, who later became Chairman of Philip Morris, believed that the next great brand would have to have a filter but also need to deal with issues that inspire men. When Cheskin’s research showed that the crest on the Marlboor package was critical to its success, he evolved the martial theme so that it carried the legend “Veni. Vidi. Vici” ( I came. I saw. I Conquered.) and generally came to resemble a medal.
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The first Marlboro Men were a motley collection of livesavers, detectives, mechanics and so on. The only thing they had in common was a tattoo, generally an anchor shaped artifice on the backs of their hands. It took 7 years before the cowboy became THE Marlboro Man, essentially America’s archetypical fighting man.
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With the phenomenon success of this brand, other manufacturers put their products on the couch and either developed new brands, such as arch competitor Winston or evolved and sharpened the meanings of their existing brands.
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Brands with notable imagery today include Camel’s with its now notorious phallic cartoon thanks to the 1990’s Joe Camel campaign and Salem which discovered that is “Salem Spirit” i.e. “witch” associations could be leverage into a kind of “World Spirituality” by adding a green “Yin-Yang” symbol.
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Other brands like American Spirit have adopted traditional Native American symbolism to attract smokers and suggest healthfulness since these are perceived as “righteous” aboriginal, surviving smokers. Many menthol brands use the images of snow and the outdoors to suggest healthfulness.
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Since the tobacco settlement of 1997 and the soaring tobacco taxes which have raised the price of cigarettes tenfold in some communities, many cheap, non-branded cigarettes have entered the marketplace. While these are more often purchased by mature smokers than starters, who tend to go for the major brands (e.g. about 70% of white male teens smoke Marlboro), they are generally derivative of the major brands and can be understood that way.
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Since brand loyalty is legendary among smoker’s there is an ongoing prescription among tobacco cessation experts (Jacquelyn Rogers, SmokEnders) that either abandoning one’s regular brands or trying to understand their meaning in one’s life a key step to quitting (InnerQutting.com).


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