EVENTS & PROMOTIONS;EXPLODING CIGARS;AFFLUENT SMOKERS LIGHT UP INTEREST IN SPONSORED EVENTS, SPECIAL MAGAZINES

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Where there's smoke, there's another cigar event lighting up.

Cigar smoking soirees have been on the rise since 1993, when upwardly mobile young urban men and women began flocking to "The Big Smoke," hosted in various cities by the booming Cigar Aficionado.

New sponsors and more events are lighting up. The lure for marketers: The mostly young, mostly male cigar smokers earn an average of more than $100,000 a year.

This summer, Esquire and Schieffelin & Somerset Co., for Johnnie Walker Gold Label whiskey, and JA Hennessy & Co. are sponsoring the tour of "The Art of the Cigar," a documentary from V2 Entertainment and General Cigar Co.

Screening sites are New York, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Houston, Boston and San Francisco.

`ADVERTORIAL IN FILM'

V2 VP Justine McKay described "The Art of the Cigar" as "an advertorial in film." Even before the tour began, some 10,000 copies of the documentary had been sold at $39.95 each.

Visibility in the smoky realm of cigars is just what General Cigar was seeking, said John Geoghegan, VP-strategic planning. When the company was first approached, Mr. Geoghegan thought the film could "generate positive publicity for cigar enjoyment" and bolster the Partagas and Macanudo brands' identities.

A new magazine titled Smoke, from Lockwood Publications, New York, also is staging cigar smoking events.

Smoke paired up with Trump Plaza Atlantic City June 21 for "The Royal Smoke," a $55-a-person event. On May 1, Smoke kicked off in Beverly Hills, Calif., its six-city "Le Cigar Noir," a $114-a-person black-tie-optional cigar smoking affair. The first stop attracted 900 attendees.

Smoking-related advertisers that "need exposure in multiple markets" paid $450 per event to be exhibitors at "Le Cigar Noir," said Lockwood Editor in Chief Aaron Sigmond.

For "The Big Smoke," pricing on display space and on-site promotion is $1,000 per advertiser, said Niki Singer, senior VP at Cigar Aficionado publisher M. Shanken Communications.

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