Anthropomorphic cigs star in ads for Benson & Hedges

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Philip Morris USA has ended its 3-year-old ad campaign for Benson & Hedges that shows smokers puffing away on airplane wings and extensions of buildings.

Three new print ad executions that broke last week show only the cigarettes--giving them a human-like look, reclining on a porch swing, lying back in a hammock or playing chess.

PLAYING OFF AMPERSAND

Playing off the ampersand in the brand name, two words are linked with that symbol in each ad. For example, the porch-swing ad is labeled: "Sitting & talking. Benson & Hedges."

Copy line is, "A moment of pleasure with the 100-millimeter cigarette."

Outdoor advertising will follow, from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

While industry insiders speculated Philip Morris was discontinuing the earlier campaign because it may have offended smokers--who were portrayed as outcasts--a company spokeswoman said that wasn't the case.

"Smokers loved that ad. They called in for posters of it," she said. "This redirection is simply giving the brand a different focus."

She said the idea was to focus more on the brand, rather than just the smoker.

"We wanted to . . . have a campaign that was more proprietary in nature," she said.

EMPHASIZING SIZE

The new effort clearly tries to give the brand a personality and stands out among cigarette advertising. It also emphasizes the length of the 100-millimeter smokes in a manner reminiscent of the brand's classic early TV advertising showing their "disadvantages."

Philip Morris insists its marketing redirection had nothing to do with Benson & Hedges' market performance. But market share data from analyst John C. Maxwell Jr. of Wheat First Butcher Singer, show Benson & Hedges' unit share was flat, 2.3% in 1995 and 1996.

A contributing factor may have been spending. In 1995, Philip Morris put $25 million into measured media spending for Benson & Hedges, according to Competitive Media Reporting; it fell 30% to $17.5 million in '96.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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