Silk Cut cigarettes readies move on premium segment

NEW YORK–The super-premium British cigarette Silk Cut, known for its witty, elegant advertising in Europe, is in the first stages of making an agg…Silk Cut is the No. 2 brand in the U.K. with a strong following throughout Europe. The low-tar brand been imported into the U.S. for about 10 years, but has had little advertising or marketing support.But a new importer, picked in early February by American Brand’s Gallaher International unit in Surrey, England, is doing initial research for a marketing and advertising program to begin next year. The company already has repackaged the cigarettes and set up some new in-store and trade marketing materials.”Gallaher saw what happened when they spent above the line for Silk Cut advertising in Europe,” said Paul Girouard, product manager of cigarettes at importer Douwe Egberts in Stamford, Conn. “They will be aggressive here because they see real growth to be had with a premium product.”Douwe Egberts has done well with other niche tobacco brands, including doubling sales of Drum loose tobacco in the past three years. It also extended distribution beyond smoke shops.It seems risky to push into the U.S. cigarette market while a pricing war pits full-price manufacturers against each other and against discount smokes. But imported cigarettes make up just a three-tenths of 1% of the $47 billion market for all brands. That leaves room for growth as some smokers decide to trade up instead of down. Girouard said there’s more to pricing than just a cents-off coupon.”Anybody can give away a product,” he said. “We have a quality item that’s affordable and also aspirational. It has value for its price.”Girouard doesn’t expect to do any consumer advertising until next year. Presently, the company is determining if the popular global advertising campaign created by Saatchi & Saatchi in the U.K. will work here. Saatchi handles Lorillard Inc. in the U.S. The European campaign twists the brand name into Cut Silk with creative showing different objects cutting the signature purple ribbon that dresses the Silk Cut box.Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)