for no good reason except there hasn't been one since the TV days of "A silly millimeter longer." Well, Philadelphia's Gyro Advertising has gone a lot farther than a silly millimeter with the rebirth of Red Kamel for R.J. Reynolds.
"It's a breakthrough," says RJR spokesman Richard L. Williams. "To my knowledge, it's the first stab by a cigarette company at this kind of tongue in cheek advertising. That's part of the appeal of using an agency like Gyro. They go beyond the scope of what you might see in conventional cigarette advertising, which appeals to the way we're positioning these brands." It's a "fun" stance for the 21 to 29 market, says Williams, and it's been successful enough to invite a new menthol brand along for the ride, hence the Frenchified Kamel Menthe, whose ads are even funnier than the Reds.
So what does zany Gyro creative director Steve Grasse have to say about all this? Not much, he's been gagged by the client. He will admit that he is an occasional smoker, and you damn well know what his brand is. So Steve, any general remarks about humor in cigarette advertising? "In general, there isn't any," says Grasse. "Except for Newport. But that's unintentional." (Just see Steve's review on page 52 for some gratuitous butt bashing.)
"The industry has been doing what everyone expects for a very long time," Grasse complains. "It's different in Europe; the Silk Cut campaign has been fantastic for a very long time. I just saw a new one with four rolls of silk waiting to get into the bathroom to pee. It's so abstract. Benson & Hedges used to be very good over there, too."
Just how did little Gyro score with a ciggie biggie, anyway? It seems Grasse and company serendipitously fell into the golden ashtray here. According to Williams, the brief was simply to take a look at launching a new product under the Camel umbrella, the smokin' specifics not disclosed. Gyro just happened to do the nutty stock photo thing. "When they came back with the nostalgic ideas, we thought it would be a perfect fit for what we had in mind for Red Kamel."
Red Kamel, you see, really is back from the, uh, dead; it was born the same year as Camel, 1913, and it was Kevorkianed in 1936, succumbing in part to Camel's great popularity. It's back as a full-price brand, by the way, and in its heyday it was no bargain smoke either. Red Kamel was a premium brand, says Williams; it sold for twice the price of the typical pack of cigarettes, which was 20 for a dime. Red Kamel was a steep 10 for a dime.
Williams also says the company is getting no grief from the anti-smoking lobby, whose members are probably wheezing with indignation at the sight of a tobacco campaign that's actually entertaining, though it can't be accused of appealing to children like Joe what'sthatonhisface; "all the calls are from people who want it in their region."
Red Kamel is doing the slide-o-matic rollout-it's presently available only in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas, and only in selected bars and convenience stores. So most of America still has time to find a really cool