Though this cigarette brand has not been so popular like Marlboro or Camel, every adult smoker knows it even that Lucky Strike doesn’t have a catchy image, or a famous advertising slogan. So, what is the reason for such a great reputation? Well, it’s not a big secret. A wise marketing strategy saved the day for this brand.
The history of Lucky Strike started in the 19th century. In Virginia, the famous “tobacco state”, a tobacco company, named R.A. Patterson registered this trademark in order to sell… no, it wasn’t cigarettes, these were not invented yet. Lucky Strike initially was a loose tobacco brand. However, for a long time this brand was just one of many tobacco brands selling in the United States.
Things changed when Lucky Strike brand was purchased by American Tobacco Company in 1905. The company needed a brand that could become a best-seller on the market. Marketing specialists liked the name, Lucky Strike, as it corresponded with the spirit of those times, and the American Dream idea. Tobacco consumers discovered the brand shortly after the introduction, but the major success was ahead.
Though the history of the famous tobacco brands is always a history of wise advertising and misleading, triumphant march of Lucky Strike started with innovative technologies. In 1916 the brand was re-launched as a cigarette brand, and next year, in an attempt to outstrip major rivals, the manufacturers applied a truly innovative method of tobacco processing. While other companies sun-cured tobacco leaves, manufacturers of Lucky Strike cigarettes went a step further and started to roast them. By means of “toasterization” (this is how they called the process), they achieved the reaction of caramelization in the leaves, thanks to which the tobacco was not only more aromatic, but also gained chocolate and coffee flavor.
Cigarettes advertised as “It’s Toasted” began outdistancing the competitors rapidly. Other tobacco companies immediately started experimenting with methods of tobacco curing. So, American Tobacco Company needed to find other ways to promote their product. In addition, they had the successful experience of Camel brand, which gained huge popularity by unusual marketing campaign. Thus, the company decided to focus on advertising.
As the market of men-oriented cigarettes was very tight, American Tobacco Company concentrated on women. They intentionally selected green color for the packs of Lucky Strike cigarettes, as this color was very fashionable and popular among American women. They employed Hollywood celebrities to promote Lucky Strikes. And in 1929 manufacturers of Lucky Strike cigarettes organized a feminist march, “Torches of Freedom”, where women walked along the main streets of New-York, proudly carrying green packs of Luckies. It brought the needed results very fast. Lucky Strike became the leading cigarette brand, outstripping even the iconic Camel, and taking 40 percents of American cigarette market.
Moreover, the manufacturers of Lucky Strike launched another advertising campaign, where doctors confirmed that Lucky Strikes are healthier than other cigarettes.
The wars always were the best time for promotion of alcohol and cigarettes. So, when the World War II began in Europe, and American soldiers went to the Old World, Lucky Strike rapidly came on the spot. In order to distinguish the brand from the competitors, the manufacturers even changed the pack design, trading the green packs for red-and-white ones, inventing a patriotic explanation to that change. They stated that they have changed the colors, because green paint contains copper, and this metal is more necessary on the war. You think it’s a stupid explanation? Definitely! But it worked. Ad even helped reduce expenses on production, as additional color means extra money.
However, it was the last major advertising success of the brand. Although, the manufacturer of Lucky Strike used TV and radio to promote the brand, its popularity was going down, as they missed the industry-wide transition to filtered smokes. Though Lucky Strike was still oriented for women smokers, the cigarettes were equipped with filters only in the late 1960s, whereas most part of target audience already switched to other brands that started to offer trendy filters earlier. In 2006, Reynolds American, the last owner of Lucky Strike trademark discontinued the brand. However, it is still selling in many countries outside of the U.S. being marketed by British American Tobacco.