The challenge for Brown & Williamson is to tap into the name recognition that comes from a brand that has existed since the 19th century, even though, according to the marketer's own research, the non-filter premium-price Pall Mall is perceived as stodgy and harsh by many consumers.
"We had to figure out how to overcome the negatives and play off the positives," said Rodger Di Pasca, regional account director-the Americas at Grey Global Group's G2, New York, which handles Pall Mall.
"Obviously, we're putting a lot of faith in the New Filtered Pall Mall," said Bruce Coley, brand manager for Pall Mall. "It's going to be one of our push brands into the future."
This week, 9 million mailers will arrive from Brown & Williamson, the U.S.' No. 3 tobacco marketer behind Philip Morris Cos. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. The mailer is going to age-verified adult smokers in Brown & Williamson's database. The piece resembles a giant matchbook with the theme "Smoother, slower, longer" on the cover. When opened, it reads: "The New Filtered Pall Mall. It's everything you've been looking for in a cigarette." Copy compares New Filtered Pall Mall's higher puff counts to competitors like Philip Morris' Marlboro and RJR's Doral.
The "Smoother, slower, longer" theme in the direct effort and consumer magazine ads is used to convey the brand's positioning as a premium-quality cigarette at a less-than-premium price. Although Pall Mall falls in the value-for-money segment, with a list price of $15.89 per carton vs. premium brands listed at $24.54, cost is only a peripheral selling point used at point of purchase.
"It's all about offering consumers value in a product, and it's not solely built on price," Mr. Coley said.
But regardless of how price figures into the marketing, that attribute might help the new Pall Mall. "I think [price] is the more compelling part of the proposition," said Marc Cohen, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, adding that playing off Pall Mall's heritage also is critical.
"The company is looking to trade on that brand equity and attract some sales in the value category," he said. "The brand equity is going to be very important if they're going to succeed."
Brandon Dona-hue, VP at tobacco distributor Burke's Distributing in Spo-kane, Wash., agreed. "I think people identify with the name Pall Mall. It will at least get them to give it a try."
And that's the point. "The goal of the direct mail is" getting smokers to switch, Mr. Di Pasca said. "We would like to see competitive smokers of value brands such as Doral and [Philip Morris'] Basic switch to Pall Mall; we would also like to see competitive smokers of premium brands like Marlboro, [RJR's] Camel, [RJR's] Winston and [Lorillard's] Newport switch to Pall Mall. This is the largest direct mail drop that Brown & Williamson has ever conducted, and that speaks to the relative importance of this launch."