Posted on February 21, 2014 by Robert Ramsay

Victory Electronic Cigarettes Corporation (otcqb ECIG), and FIN Branding Group announced today an agreement to merge their two companies and create one of the leading electronic cigarettes companies in the world. The companies have signed a definitive agreement and expect to close the transaction in the coming weeks. The new company leverages the iconic FIN brand and sales and marketing depth of the FIN organization, with the supply chain capabilities, international breadth, and financial strength of Victory. Within the past 30 days Victory completed the acquisition of VAPESTICK(R), one of Europe’s leading electronic cigarette brands and a partnership with Fields Texas Ltd. to drive global distribution and strategic retail expansion. The addition of FIN brings instant acceleration of scale and distribution in the US, significantly upgrades the global leadership team, and furthers the Company’s efforts to consolidate the electronic cigarette industry globally.

The Fin Branding Group

FIN is one of the leading electronic cigarette brands in the United States with distribution in all 50 states in more than 50,000 outlets. FIN is distributed across all major channels and is one of the top three brands in the convenience, drug, mass, and food channels. The FIN brand enjoys the number one market share position in Wal Mart, and is a leading brand in other major retailers including Walgreens, Rite Aid, Kroger, 7 11, Circle K, Sam’s, Murphy USA, Stripes, Mapco and over 200 other major chains.

Brent Willis, Chairman and CEO of Victory, and a former senior executive at InBev, Kraft, and the Coca Cola Company commented, “FIN is a powerhouse in the US with a great brand, great presence and great growth trends. Their strength in sales and marketing is unmatched, and their management team is impressive. Elliot Maisel, FIN’s Chairman and CEO, is hugely respected and has a tremendous track record of success both in the beer industry and in leading FIN to become one of the preeminent ecig companies in the US. He is going to be a great partner as we combine efforts together with Bill Fields, Michael Clapper and others to build the world’s largest independent electronic cigarette company.”

Building the Largest Independent ECIG Company

The newly formed entity creates an enterprise with 2014 sales on track to far surpass $100 million. With the integration of the FIN Branding Group, Victory has now completed three major transactions in recent months and expects to complete multiple others to grow its brand, distribution, and strategic retailer platforms worldwide. The group is focused on leveraging its low cost position, supply chain and distribution expertise, and experience in running global multinationals to build the leading independent electronic cigarette company in the world.

Bill Fields, Chairman of Fields Texas, Board Member at Victory, and former CEO of Wal Mart Stores commented, “We are delighted to have someone of Elliot’s character and caliber join the team and are confident that the FIN brand will be an iconic American brand that we can leverage into much broader distribution. Together with the Victory Brand at an opening price point and other exclusive brands, we believe we have a compelling offer for both retailers and distributors alike with superior margins and throughput versus any industry competitor.”

Significant Cost and revenue Synergies

The combination of Victory and FIN provides the group greater strength to compete in the rapidly evolving and competitive ecig category. To enhance its competitiveness, the new entity has established a convergence committee to identify and capture major cost and revenue synergies in the areas of people and culture, cost efficiency, and sales, distribution and marketing. Each of the convergence areas have dedicated work teams to identify and capture significant synergies. Thus far, the team has identified more than $5 million of revenue synergies resulting from expanding distribution of both brands and employing a dual brand strategy. In cost synergies, more than $10 million of savings have been identified in the areas of production, supply chain and marketing spend effectiveness, all of which are expected to be achieved within 12 months of closing.

Elliot Maisel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of FIN, commented, “The combination of the FIN and Victory brands provides an incredible one two punch for distributors, retailers and consumers, and an opportunity to further increase shareholder value by capturing significant cost and revenue synergies. The combination of the FIN and Victory organizations, coupled with the leadership of Field’s Texas and VAPESTICK in Europe, creates a company with greater potential and growth opportunity than any other competitor in the industry. I am very excited to help lead the organization to become the largest independent electronic cigarette company in the world, and am excited for all our shareholders and the associates at FIN and Victory to share in the benefits of our growth.”

The Same Great FIN Experience on an All New FIN Website Posted in Press Releases

A new camel brand is dressed to the nines – new york times

City council bans e-cigarettes indoors В« cbs chicago

Reynolds, eager to increase the sales of its fast growing Camel brand among women, is introducing a variety aimed at female smokers. The new variation, Camel No. 9, has a name that evokes women s fragrances like Chanel No. 19, as well as a song about romance, Love Potion No. 9.

But don t look for a Jo Camel to join Old Joe the dromedary on Camel packages, displays or posters. Rather, Camel No. 9 signals its intended buyers with subtler cues like its colors, a hot pink fuchsia and a minty green teal its slogan, Light and luscious and the flowers that surround the packs in magazine ads.

For decades, Camel has been a male focused cigarette only about 30 percent of Camel buyers are female. By comparison, for competitive brands like Marlboro and Newport, women comprise 40 percent to 50 percent of customers. Almost half of adult smokers are women, so that limited Camel s potential.

Wall Street analysts praise the introduction of Camel No. 9, in regular and menthol flavors, as a further step by the R. J. Reynolds, a unit of Reynolds American, toward a new marketing strategy. The goal is to refocus on the biggest, most popular and most profitable brands, which include Kool as well as Camel.

But critics decry the new Camel as yet another effort to single out women for smoking pitches, a tactic they trace back to the 1920s when American Tobacco urged, Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet to promote Lucky Strike cigarettes.

The sad part is, this product is just more of the same, said Cheryl G. Healton, president and chief executive of the American Legacy Foundation in Washington. The foundation oversees the national antismoking Truth campaign aimed at youth that is financed by money from Reynolds American and the other major cigarette marketers.

More women die of lung cancer than breast cancer, by a wide margin, Ms. Healton said, yet the tobacco companies still want to increase their market share among women.

R. J. Reynolds sells two brands, Capri and Misty, aimed at women. A tiny competitor, the Vector Group, sells Eve, and the principal rival to Reynolds, the Altria Group, which owns Philip Morris, pioneered the category in 1968 with the Virginia Slims brand.

Virginia Slims, pitched for decades with a campaign that carried the theme You ve come a long way, baby, is the largest brand directed at women.

Research that began early last year found female adult smokers mostly weren t Camel smokers, said Cressida Lozano, vice president for marketing of the Camel brand at Reynolds American in Winston Salem, N.C., because, they said, they didn t feel Camel had a product for them.

What we re about is giving adult smokers a choice, Ms. Lozano said, with products we believe are more appealing than existing products. The introduction of Camel No. 9 is part of plans to focus on products that are wow, she added, that add fun and excitement to the category.

Bonnie Herzog, an analyst at Citigroup who follows the tobacco industry, described Reynolds American as very good at innovation bringing out variations of existing brands with new packages, flavors, styles and other twists on familiar offerings.

There is a risk of cannibalization, Ms. Herzog said, in that so called line extensions like Camel No. 9 could take shelf space and sales from the almost 30 other varieties of Camel.

But if you can steal from your competitor, a Virginia Slims, she added, a new variety would make sense and could be quite successful.

One reason for Reynolds American to introduce the new cigarette as part of the brand family of Camel, which dates to 1913, is that the many restrictions on marketing cigarettes make it more difficult for an all new brand name to break through. That is why Camel No. 9 is joining a Camel lineup that includes newcomers like Camel Wides, Camel Turkish Gold, Kamel Special Lights and Camel 99s.

We tested several different names among adult female smokers, said Brian Stebbins, senior marketing director at R. J. Reynolds, and Camel No. 9 had a lot of appeal for being premium and sophisticated.

The 9 is meant to suggest dressed to the nines, putting on your best, Mr. Stebbins said, rather than a perfume or a song.

R. J. Reynolds is working with two of its longtime agencies to introduce Camel No. 9, Agent 16 in New York and Gyro Worldwide in Philadelphia. The company will not disclose spending for the introduction, but estimates range from $25 million to $50 million.

Reynolds American will sponsor promotional events for the new Camel in large markets around the country and promote the brand in a variety of other ways, like giving away packs at nightclubs, distributing cents off coupons and running ads in magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Flaunt, Glamour, Vogue and W.

Ms. Healton at the antismoking foundation said she worried about ads in Cosmopolitan and Glamour because both have large numbers of young readers. That means R. J. Reynolds is looking for initiation, appealing to young girls to up their market share, she said, as well as hoping that older smokers will switch to Camel No. 9 from other brands.

Aiming tobacco ads at women is a longtime strategy. Documents from the files of the tobacco companies, released in 1998, indicated they had studied female smoking habits through research projects with names like Tomorrow s Female, Cosmo and Virile Female.

Decades ago, a sultry woman cooed, Blow some my way to a man smoking Chesterfield cigarettes in magazine ads from the old Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company. Ads for Chesterfield, Camel, Lucky Strike, Old Gold, Philip Morris and other mainstay brands featured female celebrities like Lucille Ball, Marlene Dietrich, Risл Stevens and Barbara Stanwyck.

Even Wilma Flintstone smoked, in animated commercials for Winston cigarettes that appeared during The Flintstones. The last cigarette commercial to be broadcast on American television, on Jan. 1, 1971, was for Virginia Slims.

One of the most famous moments in marketing took place in 1929, when Edward L. Bernays, widely considered the father of public relations, alerted newspapers that women would be smoking in public, during the Easter parade on Fifth Avenue, to promote equality of the sexes. He did not reveal he was paid for his torches of freedom effort by American Tobacco, the maker of Lucky Strike, which sought to encourage women to smoke.