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Can Philip Morris USA suddenly become simply Dave's Tobacco Co.?

In the first advertising and promotion for a new discount brand testing in Colorado and Wyoming, the world's largest tobacco marketer is attempting to do just that.

Listing a Concord, N.C., address, the new brand offers an image of a small company taking on the biggies.

"Dave was fed up with cheap, fast-burning smokes," says an on-pack flier for Dave's and Dave's Lights. "Instead of just getting mad, he did something about it ... Dave's tobacco company was born."

A brochure sent to retailers goes even further in pushing the story.

"Down in Concord, N.C., there's a guy named Dave. He lives in the heart of tobacco farmland. Dave enjoys lots of land, plenty of freedom and his yellow '57 pickup truck."

The brochure also advises retailers against placing the brand too close to others from Philip Morris.

"Dave's homegrown smokes don't mix with the `corporate' cigarettes," says the sales brochure.

While the image in the campaign from Young & Rubicam, New York, is of the little guy, the brand will get big guy support. Newspaper, magazine and outdoor boards will be used, along with major promotions.

The unusual campaign broke four weeks ago after Philip Morris switched its test site for the brand from Portland, Ore.

"It reminds me of OK Soda [an orange drink] from Coca-Cola and some recent beers from Anheuser-Busch and Miller" said Manny Goldman, an analyst with PaineWebber, San Francisco. "They are all very unusual, very offbeat. The odds are they are geared to Generation X."

Philip Morris, which has priced Dave's the same as its Basic brand, said it isn't trying to mislead anyone.

"This is no different than Betty Crocker for General Mills, Bartles & Jaymes for E&J Gallo Winery, Aunt Jemima from Quaker Oats or Icehouse beer from the Plank Road Brewery," really Philip Morris-owned Miller Brewing Co., said Karen Daragan, manager of media affairs for Philip Morris. "We consider it a grass-roots unconventional approach. It's a tale of fictional imagery."

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