First Redesign of Basic Cigarette Pack in 30 Years

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is introducing its third Winston revamp in as many years with the launch of Winston EVO Flask, deemed by the
New curved and sculpted EVO packs

company as the first dramatic cigarette-pack redesign in 30 years.

The new cigarettes will come in silver-and-black plastic packs resembling flasks. The packs are curved and wider and thinner than traditional cigarette boxes so they will fit better in pockets and will not be crushed, Edmund Leary, senior vice president of marketing at RJR, told AdAge.com.

RJR is a unit of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings.

April distribution
The line extension, which will be available in limited distribution nationwide in April, includes two new styles -- rich and light blends -- and will be supported by print ads in racing magazines and USA Today through Winston agency Gyro Worldwide, Philadelphia.

Ads will continue the "No boundaries, no bull" positioning that debuted last spring with the launch of Winston S2, a blend deemed "quantum smooth" with sleek, silver-and-black packaging. The executions for the EVO Flask -- which

stands for "evolved" premium blend -- will emphasize the pack and use the silver, black and blue hues.

Silverish tips
That color scheme continues to the cigarettes themselves, which have silverish-gray tips.

In 2000, the year before the rollout of S2, RJR overhauled the entire Winston line by making the cigarettes from "100% first-cut" blends containing no reprocessed sheet tobacco made from scraps, adding to its additive-free revamp introduced in 1997.

Winston EVO Flask will be premium-priced but, more important, not discounted at retail like many other Winston styles and competitive cigarettes.

More expensive
"We're offering very tangible benefits with this new pack and new cigarette," Mr. Leary said. "Our research has indicated that smokers would fully

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anticipate having to pay more for this product, so that's our intention."

Winston EVO Flask will only cost more than base Winston styles if those base styles are already discounted at retail.

Demanding a premium price has become increasingly difficult given price competition from smaller cigarette manufacturers that market deeply discounted brands.

In order to charge more, the major players have to offer the smoker something different, said Rob Campagnino, senior tobacco analyst at Prudential Securities.

"You're going to have to start to offer people something premium. You can't just offer them the same cigarettes in the same package," he said, adding that even "little things" like the new EVO Flask packs could help move that needle.

"We are committed to differentiating Winston in ways that are meaningful to consumers to not only grow our market share but to improve our margins," Mr. Leary said. "We think we should be successful at commanding a higher price" for the new smokes.

The launch of Winston EVO Flask will also be supported by point-of-sale materials, event marketing at bars and a direct-mail effort to adult smokers on RJR's mailing list.

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