A major ad campaign breaking in November magazines from Bates USA, New York, uses "The American original" theme. The phrase began appearing on outdoor boards and in magazine ads and at point of purchase in some markets this year.
Brown & Williamson declined to comment on the campaign, but tobacco industry observers expect advertising and promotion to top $10 million easily next year.
CONTINUITY PROGRAM, PROMOTIONS
Along with the ads, Brown & Williamson is expected to unveil a continuity program and extensive promotions, with both likely targeting smokers from age 21 to 26.
The reintroduction has been expected since Brown & Williamson's British parent, B.A.T Industries, acquired American Tobacco Co. in 1994.
Until now, Lucky Strike has gotten no significant ad support for years, and sales put the brand near the bottom of major premium cigarettes.
B.A.T has long marketed Lucky Strike as a major brand outside the U.S., and the deal put the brand under one parent.
B.A.T had watched helplessly as Philip Morris Cos. promoted Marlboro and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. touted Camel all over the world, using international broadcasts of auto racing and other events in one country to reinforce their messages in another.
The lack of U.S. support must have been especially galling considering Lucky Strike's "American original" theme overseas.
Paul Beaufrere, an analyst with James Cappel in London, said that on a global basis, B.A.T regards Lucky Strike as one of its flagship brands.
"They would be mad if they would allow it to die. It's a great name worldwide," he said. "In a way they are following the great success of Marlboro in going the global route wherever possible."
Within the U.S., the Luckies campaign is likely to be a centerpiece of a major effort to increase Brown & Williamson's share of the premium cigarette market.
"They have a major weakness in the premium-price field," said Roy Burry, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., noting that Brown & Williamson's biggest brand is discount-price GPC, and that only its Kool brand is a major premium-price brand.
POTENTIAL YOUTH APPEAL
Mr. Burry said Lucky Strike, which in the '40s and '50s was among the top U.S. brands, could still offer an appeal that could actually prove a bigger marketing advantage with younger smokers than with older Luckies smokers.
The Lucky Strike campaign comes amid major marketing turmoil among Philip Morris rivals. RJR is testing a repositioning of its flagship Winston brand in Florida, via Long Haymes Carr, Winston-Salem, N.C. RJR also is seeking ideas for an alternate Winston campaign.
In addition, RJR has both Earle Palmer Brown, New York, and WestWayne, Tampa, Fla., working on a new campaign for Salem cigarettes.
The marketer's goal is to take those repositioning efforts national next year.