Lorillard's initial products included cigars and snuff, but in 1926, the company introduced Old Gold cigarettes, which became one of its star products. By 1930, with the aid of a campaign from Lennen & Mitchell that featured exuberant flappers and the slogan "Not a cough in a carload," Old Gold won 7% of the market. During the 1930s, Lennen & Mitchell built the Old Gold brand on radio by advertising in music programming targeting young people.
In 1941, Lorillard moved the Old Gold account to J. Walter Thompson Co., which changed the brand's slogan to "Something new has been added." On TV, in the 1950s, Old Gold was known for its dancing cigarette packages (women wearing white boots and Old Gold packages), which tapped in time to an Old Gold jingle. Lennen & Mitchell also handled TV for Old Gold.
In 1952, H.W. Newell joined Lennen & Mitchell, which was renamed Lennen & Newell. Mr. Newell brought with him Embassy Cigarettes, a small Lorillard brand, and the marketer then consolidated all Lorillard advertising at the new shop.
In 1950, medical studies revealed a strong correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and the tobacco industry embarked on what proved to be a lengthy battle against such studies.
In 1952, Lorillard was still one of the smaller cigarette marketers, with only 6% of the market. That year, it introduced Kent cigarettes, which contained a "Micronite" filter made from the filter material used in atomic energy plants. Ads for Kent, from Young & Rubicam, claimed that the new cigarette greatly reduced tar and nicotine.
As other cigarette marketers began to introduce their own filter bands, Lorillard began running Kent ads that traded on consumers' fear of disease: "Sensitive smokers get real health protection with new Kent" and "Kent takes more nicotine and tars than any other leading cigarette-the difference in protection is priceless." In addition, Lorillard ran TV spots showing the dark residue deposited by tobacco smoke on Kent's filter-from which the smoker's lungs were, presumably, spared.
However, Lorillard ran afoul of the American Medical Association when in 1954 it used test findings from the Journal of the American Medical Association to bolster Kent's filter claims in ads. The ads stated, "The American Medical Association voluntarily conducted in their own lab a series of independent tests of filters and filter cigarettes. As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, these tests proved that of all the filter cigarettes tested, one type was the most effective for removing tars and nicotine. This type filter is used by Kent . . . and only Kent!"
The AMA condemned the Kent ads as "reprehensible and misleading," saying they "strongly imply that the AMA and the medical profession recommend to the smoking public the use of a specific filtered cigarette."
Amid the controversy, Lorillard in 1953 began advertising king-size Old Gold side by side with the standard brand; in 1957, it added a filtered variety as well. In 1958, it introduced Old Gold Straights with reduced tar and nicotine levels with a campaign from L&N in newspapers in more than 140 markets and on radio and TV.
In 1957, Lorillard used a page in The New York Times to launch Newport menthol filter cigarettes in a crushproof box via Y&R.
In July of that year, Lorillard caught a lucky break via a Y&R campaign in 60 newspapers in 16 markets just as the August issue of Reader's Digest came out with a positive evaluation of Kent in its second article on filter cigarettes. The ads claimed that tests had proved Kent was superior because of its new filter, and the Reader's Digest article supported Kent with lab tests of its own.
At that time Kent received the lion's share of Lorillard's $20 million advertising budget; a year earlier, the largest part of Lorillard $14.8 million budget had gone to Old Gold.
The tar and nicotine controversy began to grow again due to new studies and cigarette ratings reports in Consumer Reports and Reader's Digest that spurred congressional hearings on filter cigarette ad claims. While filter brands' share of the market grew from 10% in 1954 to 35% in 1957, consumers were unaware of how well the filters performed because FTC guides prohibited tar and nicotine claims that lacked "sound scientific data." (In fact, studies showed Lorillard's Kent brand yielded six times more tar in 1952 than in 1950, due to a change from its original filter.)
The high-tar brands of the past—Camel, Lucky Strike and Chesterfield—disappeared from the U.S. markets to be replaced by filter and non-filter versions with much lower tar and nicotine.
The climax of the "Tar Derby" came in fall 1959 when all six U.S. cigarette marketers introduced new lower-tar brands. Major ad campaigns for each were halted, however, when the FTC declared that all claims about tar and nicotine levels would be regarded as implied claims of positive health effects.
With cigarette sales down entering the 1960s as a result of a report from the U.S. Surgeon General's office, Lorillard pushed hard to establish itself in the filter-tip and regular cigar market, introducing Omega and Erik. Network TV and magazines were Lorillard's favorite media vehicles.
In 1964, tobacco marketers voluntarily agreed to implement what came to be known as the Cigarette Advertising Code, which banned advertising and marketing to consumers under 21 years of age. Because the code was voluntary, Lorillard refused to participate, earning a reputation as a maverick in the process.
Four years later, Lorillard again surprised observers when it chose not to renew its sponsorship of CBS' broadcasts of National Football League games on the premise that the games were too youth-oriented.
In 1966, Lorillard spent $36.4 million advertising its products, with Kent the most heavily advertised at $15.5 million. Almost half of the Kent money went to network TV. Runner-up media included magazines, spot TV and spot radio. Lorillard's No. 2 cigarette brand in terms of spending was Newport, its chief menthol entry. Measured media spending for Newport in 1965 exceeded $10.5 million, with network TV the chief beneficiary. Next in line was Old Gold, recording $4 million in measured media, followed by Spring with $1.5 million.
Lorillard launched its True brand in September 1966 in 10 major U.S. markets, supporting the launch with buys in print, radio and on NBC's "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." The tagline for the new brand: "Shouldn't your brand be True?"
In 1967, Lorillard increased overall ad spending to $41.5 million. At that time, Lorillard's agencies included Foote, Cone & Belding for True and Danville filter; Grey Advertising for Kent, Old Gold, Spring 100 and York Imperial 100; and L&N for Newport, cigars, pipe and chewing tobaccos.
In 1968, the company again increased ad spending, to $44.9 million. That year, Vince Cullers Advertising, Chicago, joined Lorillard's roster, handling advertising for all Lorillard products in black media in the U.S.
In 1968, Loews Theaters acquired Lorillard and renamed it Lorillard Corp. By the second half of the year, FCB had taken over Kent and Newport had moved to L&N. In 1970, True shifted from FCB to L&N.
The 1970s and '80s
In 1970, Congress banned all tobacco advertising from TV and radio. The following year, Lorillard introduced Maverick, its first new full-flavor cigarette since Old Gold, making heavy use of free samples. Also, as part of its venture in alternative forms of advertising, early in the 1970s Lorillard tried advertising Kent and True in paperback books.
Lorillard soon made another ad agency shift, appointing two shops, de Garmo Inc. and Masius, Wynne-Williams, to handle four of its five brands that had been housed at L&N, after that shop folded in January 1972. An estimated $12 million had been spent advertising those five brands the previous year. In 1972, L&N folded, and Lorillard moved True to de Garmo while Masius took on Maverick as well as Beechnut and Big Red chewing tobaccos.
At the end of the decade Lorillard launched new ads for a reformulated Kent, which now offered reduced tar levels. The low-tar and low-nicotine emphasis continued to be a flashpoint for tobacco marketers into the 1980s owing to increasing pressure by health groups to restrict the areas where smoking was allowed. Every marketer, Lorillard included, advertised and compared tar and nicotine contents.
In mid-1980, Lorillard began a market-research-based campaign aimed at showing that its Triumph brand tasted better than Winston Lights, Marlboro Lights and Merit, all of which were R.J. Reynolds brands. Following a lawsuit that Lorillard lost, the marketer was required to tone down its message.
Lorillard's next strategy included testing a new non-menthol brand, Newport Red, a departure from the company's new-product practice of introducing low-tar brands.
In 1982, Lorillard switched its True account from D'Arcy-MacManus & Masius to Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample when Heublein, a D'Arcy client, acquired tobacco rival R.J. Reynolds. Among Lorillard's brands, only Newport had shown much growth in recent years.
Lorillard entered 1983 looking for a hot new brand, but none of its tests had been promising.
Like most of the tobacco companies, Lorillard spent the majority of the 1990s fighting tobacco legislation. In 1998, it tested a non-menthol version of its Newport brand. Lorillard chose Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, New York, to handle the account. Ads, with the tagline "A star is born," broke just as cigarette marketers jockeyed for position, waiting for what were expected to be stronger restrictions on tobacco marketing.
In 1997, the major tobacco companies signed an agreement with attorneys general from 46 states that further restricted their marketing options: No outdoor cigarette advertising was permitted; no human models or cartoons were allowed; and image advertising was restricted to print media that did not have a significant percentage of youthful readers. Sponsorships of sporting events or the arts were prohibited and the terms "light" and "low tar" were essentially banned. Also, Internet advertising on any Web site that could be accessed from the U.S. was prohibited, a provision that drove the majority of cigarette advertising overseas.
In addition, tobacco companies were required to run ads discouraging teens from smoking. In 1998, Lorillard, via Bozell, New York, launched its own youth-antismoking campaign with the tagline "Tobacco is wacko if you're a teen."
In 2002, Lorillard became the only tobacco marketer to challenge the American Legacy Foundation's "Truth" campaign, which denigrated the tobacco industry. Lorillard filed suit against the foundation, claiming ads from its agencies, Arnold Worldwide Partners, Boston, and Crispin Porter Bogusky, Miami, violated the agreement with states attorneys general under which the tobacco companies fund the foundation.