In a test that will get major ad support, RJR is removing the additives in all 17 versions of its Winston product variations and then will market the brand as being the cigarette without additives, "no bull."
"There's enough bull out there-you shouldn't have to smoke it," says copy in six-page inserts from Long Haymes Carr, Winston-Salem, N.C., comparing the new Winston's lack of non-tobacco flavoring with other cigarettes.
The advertising carries the "All taste, no additives" line.
Winston is RJR's biggest seller and the country's No. 2 brand, so the marketer has been reluctant to change the product's taste. However, the brand has been slipping precariously in recent years.
Last year, Winston declined 3.2% in volume, according to John C. Maxwell Jr., an analyst for Wheat First Butcher Singer. Rival Philip Morris USA's Marlboro grew 5.2%. Winston's 5.8% market share is down from 7.5% in 1991; Marlboro is at 30.1%.
In recent years, RJR's answer to Winston's problems has been to spend on event marketing, while heavy advertising has been put behind Camel and other brands.
SUBSTANTIAL AD SUPPORT
RJR won't disclose spending details of the Florida test but said ad support will be substantial.
"We will be supporting it at a high enough level to see if we can effectively get across what we are trying to say," said Ned Leary, marketing director.
RJR has done considerable research on the changes, and claims the new taste pleases current Winston smokers and those of competing brands.
"Ninety percent of Winston smokers like it as much or better than the old Winston, while 60% to 80% of smokers of competing brands like it more than they do the older Winston," said Mr. Leary.
The new positioning attempts to present Winston as authentic, but with a point of difference and an attitude. The "no bull" line could be read as a slap at the Western motif of rival Marlboro.
Ads try to draw distinctions between cigarettes that use flavoring agents-such as licorice and sugar-and new Winston.
"One of the things we are hearing is this is tobacco. I smoke it. I don't eat it," Mr. Leary said.
While RJR will rely on traditional media, Mr. Leary promises some new, unspecified twists.