Bull Durham

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During the U.S. Civil War, John Ruffin Green's Genuine Durham Smoking Tobacco company made shredded pipe tobacco and sold it in small cloth bags with a picture of a bull on the side. The Bull Durham logo came about when a friend of Mr. Green's suggested he call his tobacco Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco. Before long, the product—which had become popular with soldiers during the war—was commonly known as Bull Durham.

Mr. Green died in 1869, and his company was bought by former storekeeper William T. Blackwell, who made the Bull Durham name internationally renowned. The image of the bull appeared on billboards and murals throughout the world, and one of the Great Pyramids at Giza had the bull painted on it.

Bull Durham made extensive use of advertising trading cards—forerunners to today's baseball cards—in the 1870s. It also was the first U.S. marketer to use "image marketing," incorporating the names of famous satisfied customers, including authors Thomas Carlyle, William Thackeray and James Russell Lowell, in advertising.

By the early 1880s, Mr. Blackwell's Bull Durham factory was the largest tobacco processor in the world. Its plant employed more than 1,000 workers in a single building, and the company was spending $100,000 per year on ads in small-town newspapers and $50,000 annually for ads in daily newspapers in larger cities.

The company was also active in specialty advertising, developing a promotion in which the round tabs featuring a bull that were tied to the ends of the drawstrings used in the small cloth sacks of Bull Durham tobacco could be exchanged for premiums.

By 1890, Bull Durham was one of the most famous trademarks in the world. In that same year, five of the largest cigarette producers, including Blackwell Tobacco Co., the maker of Bull Durham, joined together to form the American Tobacco Co.

The new company continued to use trading cards in its marketing and developed the popular "Sporting Girls" cards, which consumers could obtain by redeeming 75 certificates from American Tobacco Co. products.

Bull Durham made its last ad hurrah in 1918, when the company announced that, since it was sending all its Bull Durham tobacco to U.S. soldiers in World War I, it would suspend advertising.

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