du Maurier, Peter Jackson, Benson and
Macdonald Special ....
The Du Maurier
Bad enough that BAT/Imperial
Tobacco's favoured brand, du Maurier, hit the grand old age of 75 this
past year (the trade-mark was first registered in Canada in 1930), but
her standing as Canada's best selling cigarette was under threat.
Restrictions on advertising and sponsorship made it difficult for du
Maurier cigarettes to get promotional support for its image as an 'aspirational'
'up-market' brand. Even worse, the price war launched by up-start
companies made it harder for this full-price up-scale brand going
With Du Maurier providing BAT/ITL with
40% of its revenues , no wonder they were worried.
The solution to this problem, BAT
was to give both packaging and retail displays a face lift. They
hoped these presentational elements could convey the image and brand
values that had previously been communicated through advertising and
sponsored events. The package they chose, an eight-sided flip top box,
was radically different than the four-sided slide-and-shell that had
been the Canadian industry standard for decades.
the new packaging came a 'repackaging' of retail stores. Retail
outlets were paid to display the new packages in newly-designed
displays. These displays were also intended to make up for lost
advertising opportunities by projecting du Maurier's brand image
as well as providing 'presence' for the brand. As ITL's chief
marketing executive put it: "We
decided that in order to
leverage the full impact of the Signature Pack and overcome the fact
that we are not allowed to do any kind of advertising, we needed to also
redesign and refit our in-store displays to mirror the look of the pack.
It is pretty staggering to think that we retrofitted close to 2,000
locations with new displays." These displays were only mounted in
provinces where displays were legal (i.e. not Saskatchewan, Manitoba or
The new packages hit the new shelving
displays in spring 2005 -- a few weeks later, Ontario and Quebec passed
laws banning all displays of cigarettes by May 31, 2008. Ontario's law
put an interim measure in place effective May 31, 2006 banning displays
like the new du Maurier shelving which used colour and design to promote
For more on this design:
acceptance speech by BAT/ITL's Jeff Guilner
Peter Jackson gains new colours
-- and colourful new
Peter Jackson is Imperial Tobacco's
'up and coming'-est brand, and its major weapon in the current cigarette
price war. Imperial has tried to give it staying power by changing
its package in the following ways:
a bright orange brand ("smooth" flavour) was introduced to
coincide with Ontario's restrictions on retail displays (the bright
orange stands out against a plain black background).
new descriptions appear on the package,
different than the old descriptors of
'light' or 'mild', these are almost marketing slogans:
cured virginia tobacco.
more satisfying flavour."
law that is supposed to protect Canadians from
packaging which creates "erroneous" impressions about health impacts
does nothing to stop companies from printing this type of advertising
brand names and brand elements (horse on a shield) are now more
prominently displayed. Imperial is not the only manufacturer to increase
the visibility of brand names on packages following advertising
restrictions and larger health warnings.
ITL continues the change to the brand it made a couple
of years ago to use colours to communicate so-called 'strength.'
Multinational companies use the same coded colours they are using
worldwide, i.e. red=full, blue=light, green=menthol,
Peter Jackson has become one of
Canada's leading brands. The YCM Report for February 2006 reported
that in the previous quarter, it was the most popular brand in Quebec
(20%), beating out ITL's traditional market leaders, Player's and du
Benson and Hedges broke with its own king-size only tradition and
introduced a 'regular' length cigarette this spring, it also 'joined the
pack' in revamping its packages with larger and more visible brand
With the package more and more the
marketing vehicle for tobacco companies, can calls for plain packaging
be far behind?
Benson and Hedges is sold in Canada
by Rothmans, Benson and Hedges, which is 40% owned by Philip Morris and
60% owned by Rothmans Inc, the only publicly held tobacco company based
The Benson and Hedges brand is sold
by a variety of tobacco companies globally. Gallaher sells the brand in
its native U.K., BAT markets it in most parts of the world other than
The brand used to be marketed in
Canada through the Symphony of Fire events in Toronto, Montreal and
Vancouver. After these events could no longer be used to promote
cigarette brands in 2003, RBH turned to bar promotions, like "Gold Club"
series. In its 2006 Annual Report, the company disclosed that
"With upcoming regulatory restrictions on tobacco in the bar
environment, RBH recently discontinued its bar program. With dark
markets already in place in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and scheduled for
implementation over the next two years in Prince Edward Island, Ontario
and Québec, RBH’s strategy for long-term success in the premium
cigarette category is to focus on growing brands by investing in retail
nationalism -- or should that be 'la
Canadian history is peppered with
"les bleus" and "les rouges." Only in hockey is blue (Toronto
Maple Leafs) given over to English Canada while red (Montreal Canadiens
- les Habs) is given to Quebec. Usually the colours continue the
colonial past of Quebec (French Blue) and Upper Canada (English
Not one to let reconciliation get
in the way of a good marketing strategy, JTI-Macdonald dressed its new
discount brand, Macdonald Special, in two very different colours and
labels for the very distinct Quebec and Ontario markets.
|In English Canada,
the English-red package evokes the Canadian flag and the
package boasts that it is a "Canadian Blend"
||In Quebec, the
French-blue package evokes the Quebec flag, and boasts that it is "Faite
au Quebec" (made in Quebec).
Which is a more successful
approach? In the last quarter of 2005, the Quebec version had
captured 1.1% of the cigarette market (a twelth-place brand, fifth-place
among discount cigarettes). In Ontario and western Canada, it had only
0.6% of the cigarette market (a sixteenth placed brand).
A rose by any other name...
of the numbers game.
Tobacco companies have seen a ban on
the use of terms like 'light' and 'mild' on the horizon. (Although six
years have passed since a Canadian Minister of Health gave tobacco
companies "100 days" to respond to his demand to remove these terms,
they remain on the packages.).
The companies have repackaged their
brands to survive a challenge to brand descriptors. Some (see
above) have adopted a codification of "red, blue, silver, gold". Others
are focusing on the numbers or colours to suggest to smokers that they
can adopt a brand image and still find a particular cigarette design to
suit their smoking style/dosing requirements.
Vantage, manufactured by Japan
Tobacco affiliate, JTI-Macdonald, has taken the approach of showing
numbers from the machine test protocol required by Health Canada.
The lower number gets preference -- the brand descriptors "light",
"medium", "filter", "rich" and "max" are almost redundant. Colour
shading and heaviness of font are also used to denote changes in
Vantage was once JTI-Macdonald's
low-tar brand. Now it is its leading 'discount price brand.' By
introducing choices for 'full-flavoured' cigarettes, it has shown that
brand extensions can move up smokers associations of strength, as well
as down. Imperial Tobacco has also experimented with
"full-flavour" matinees in some regions of Canada.
(Lifestyle and sponsorship
advertisements are now banned, and the companies have a self-imposed
restraint on using remaining forms of legal advertising while they
are challenging the federal tobacco law in court).
Jeff Guller's acceptance
speech for the Barezzi award:
"du MAURIER has always been THE premium brand in Canada. It is the best
selling brand in Canada and accounts for 40 per cent of Imperial
Tobacco’s revenue. You can appreciate how important it was for us to
maintain this leadership position.