RJR DABBLES WITH MOONLIGHT

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R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., having launched its Moonlight Tobacco Co. and seven new brands with an unusual accent on package graphics rather than traditional advertising, is now using a similar strategy for its limited outdoor advertising.

Hand painted boards created by artist Tom Van Housen were erected last week in Chicago and will be up shortly in New York and Seattle, the other two cities where Reynolds is testing the selection of new cigarettes brands.

"We wanted to give our advertising the same unusual feel as the new brands," said Dirk Herrman, the former RJR senior marketing manager for Vantage and More who came up with the idea for Moonlight and now heads the project.

Mr. Van Housen painted vinyl "canvasses" that were then framed for hanging.

Mr. Herrman, now president of Moonlight, introduced the Moonlight brands two months ago calling them an alternative to typical brands, with graphics more akin to specialty coffees or beers than to cigarettes.

The seven brands, not all of which are sold in each city, include Jumbo, a wide gauge cigarette; City, with a granite filter; Bee, a honey-toasted smoke that features a bee mascot on each cigarette but no name anywhere; Sedona, another honey-toasted tobacco; Northstar, with a star filter; Politix, a play on the politics of smoking; and Metro, a thin menthol cigarette.

Moonlight's brands are sold at premium prices, often from a display that includes four different brands with widely different graphics.

There is no advertising for individual brands. Initial local advertising in the three markets from Vernacular Advertising, New York, merely features a collage of all seven package designs.

Mr. Herrman said RJR is trying to limit sales of the brands to stores that properly display them and to unique venues. One Chicago restaurant sells the cigarettes as an alternative to normal brands.

Initial response has been very favorable, generating repeat business, he said. He said the company is considering whether to try some new markets or add brands in current markets.

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