Winston revamps, puts new ad spin on 'No bull' theme

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R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is taking Winston's "No bull'' positioning by the horns with its second total-line revamp in three years, backed by a national print campaign.

In 1997, the No. 2 tobacco marketer overhauled its lagging Winston brand, making it 100% additive-free. The blend, coupled with its "No bull'' marketing strategy, led to the cigarette's first market-share gain in 25 years. Since then, the brand has stabilized, said Ned Leary, VP-marketing for Winston at RJR.

Analyst Bill Pecoriello of Sanford C. Bernstein said the '97 share boost was "a reaction from the revamp.'' In turning around a brand that had been declining for decades, he said, RJR "finally did something right, and consumers reacted to it.''


With the new campaign from Doe Anderson, Louisville, Ky., RJR introduces a second generation of the reborn Winstons. In addition to having no additives, the "100% first-cut'' blend contains no reprocessed sheet tobacco made from scraps.

"We're confirming our position in the marketplace of being a `no bull' brand that offers adult smokers full tobacco taste,'' Mr. Leary said.

" 'No bull' stands for authenticity. What you see is what you get.''

The push, which consists of several print executions running in national magazines such as Maxim, People and Rolling Stone, is "a very straightforward campaign that depicts Winston smokers delivering their confident, true to themselves, straight-up attitude,'' Mr. Leary said.

One ad shows men talking, laughing and smoking around a table. The copy reads: "No fake smiles. No hidden agendas. No bull.'' Another execution features a woman sitting alone, with elbows on a table and a cigarette in hand, staring straight at the reader with a confident half-smile. Below the picture, copy lines ask, "Are you settling for less than 100%?''

Instead of using the Winston name, the ads use the W-in-a-circle symbol that appears on cigarette packs, with the line "No additives. No sheet. No bull.'' A one-third page that accompanies each page ad describes the attributes of the new blend and uses the tagline "Leave the bull behind.''


The new campaign also differs from previous "No bull'' executions, from Long Haymes Carr, Winston-Salem, N.C., in that it is in color rather than b&w. RJR made Doe Anderson, which had done project work for Winston, lead agency for the brand in February.

The new Winstons will be sold in retail outlets throughout the country at the same price as the previous line. Unlike sibling brand Camel, Winston is not sold via direct mail, nor does it advertise in any custom publications.

For RJR, which had a 22.5% share of the market in the first quarter -- following No. 1 Philip Morris USA with 51.6%, according to Bernstein's analysis of company reports -- Winston is its No. 2 premium brand with a 4.6% share, trailing Camel, which has 5.2%, but ahead of Salem with 2.9%.

Mr. Pecoriello is not forecasting significant share gains for Winston as a result of the latest overhaul. He said RJR's continual evolution of the brand as well as the marketing support are helping maintain share. The brand showed only a 0.1% decrease for the first quarter compared with the same period in 1999.

"RJR is doing a good job of stabilizing the brand,'' he said. "RJR has been able to stop the erosion of people leaving the brand and trading down.''

RJR spent $149 million in measured media in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting; $54.8 million of that was used to support Winston.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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