Gerry Reid, senior vice president of marketing at Liggett, acknowledges the gimmick to revive the faded brand of cigarettes.

“It’s a nice little advertising homily, if you will,” he said, meant to underscore Liggett’s status as the smallest of America’s six major tobacco companies. A red brick Liggett factory in the ads does bear the Chesterfield name, he added.

Faux corporate parentage is a common ploy in selling image driven products. Though the Limited Inc. is based in Columbus, Ohio, advertising for its Express clothing stores make them seem French. And the Jack Daniel Distillery in tiny Lynchburg, Tenn., is actually owned by the giant Brown Forman Corporation in Louisville, Ky.

Yet Chesterfield’s comeback bid goes beyond advertising its fanciful origins. Liggett is pursuing the risky strategy of selling the brand at full price $2.60 a pack or higher in some cities despite a strong counter trend toward discount cigarettes, priced as low as $1.25 a pack.

“They’re running against the tide,” said John Maxwell Jr., an analyst at Wheat First Securities in Richmond. “Discount brands are almost a third of the market,” compared with 3 percent a decade ago, “and it won’t be too much longer before they’re 40 percent.”

The decision is doubly daunting because it was Liggett that kicked off the low price boom in 1980 with cigarettes in plain wrappers or carrying store names in place of brand names.

Yet about a year ago, Mr. Reid said, Liggett “determined those brands were perhaps not the best strategy for financial growth and glory.” The primary reason was that sales of discount cigarettes had ballooned to 70 percent of Liggett’s total volume though their profit margins are 30 to 50 percent below those of full price brands.

So Liggett resumed advertising some full price brands like Eve and Lark, and decided to introduce another to be promoted as a higher quality product, Mr. Reid said. After testing a number of trademarks, he continued, “we found the idea was significantly enhanced by the Chesterfield trademark.”

Ross Sutherland, senior vice president and executive creative director at Ogilvy New York, said “There is a lot of equity in old brand names.”

“Americans have a certain place in their hearts for names that ring a familiar bell,” he added. “To let them vanish is so short term.”

And Chesterfield, with an unfiltered version brought out in 1912 that is still sold, is one of America’s oldest brand names. From the 1920’s through 1950’s, Chesterfield vied for supremacy against brands including Camel, Lucky Strike and Old Gold. Advertising with “Chesterfield Girls” like Lucille Ball (before “I Love Lucy”) and endorsers like Jack Webb of “Dragnet” urged smokers to “Always buy Chesterfield” because “They satisfy,” a theme echoed in the new campaign’s slogan, “Slow to burn. Sure to satisfy.”

Though ads continued through the 60’s featuring a band marching through a tobacco field playing a brassy jingle, “Twenty one great tobaccos make 20 wonderful smokes” Chesterfield by then had been overwhelmed by filtered brands like Winston and Marlboro.

Though two previous efforts in the 60’s and 80’s to popularize filtered Chesterfields failed as did the “silly millimeter longer” 101 millimeter version Mr. Sutherland said the third time could be the charm because of the concept of selling the brand as “a quality product that on paper, you could justify at a premium price.”

“Smokers don’t get many rewards today,” he added. “You can reward them with better value for the money.”

Mr. Maxwell praised the strategy of introducing the cigarette into an intensely competitive market with a known, rather than an unknown, brand name.

“If everybody’s heard of Chesterfield, but haven’t tried it recently, it might be easier to launch,” he added, because Liggett might be able to spend less than the $50 million to $100 million required to familiarize smokers with a new brand.

R. J. Reynolds has found success with that strategy, updating its 79 year old Camel brand with a filter and the hip “Joe Camel” advertising character.

Mr. Reid said Liggett planned to spend more than $20 million to reintroduce filtered Chesterfields, which is “more than the company spent in the last five or six years” on all its brands.

And if Chesterfield is resurrected, he added, Liggett might try to revive L&M, its popular 50’s filter brand.

If so, there is an obvious faux corporate name by which to reintroduce it the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, Liggett’s original name and the source of the “L” and “M” in L&M.

Photos A 1949 advertisement, featuring Barbara Stanwyck, for unfiltered Chesterfield cigarettes. (Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company) A print ad for the faux firm called Chesterfield Cigarette Company, a bid to revive a faded brand. (Ogilvy & Mather)

Jennifer lawrence’s heated call after being caught smoking a suspicious roll-up cigarette

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