Kool (cigarette)

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KOOL Milds.png
An old pack of Kool cigarettes.
Product type Cigarette
Owner ITG Brands LLC, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco Company), R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (bought in 2003), British American Tobacco (sold outside of the U.S.)
Country United States
Introduced 1933; 85 years ago (1933)
Markets See Markets
Previous owners Brown and Williamson
Website https://www.kool.com

Kool (stylized as KOOL) is an American brand of menthol cigarette, currently owned and manufactured by ITG Brands LLC (a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco Company).[1] Kool cigarettes sold outside of the U.S. are manufactured by British American Tobacco.[citation needed]


Kool was launched in 1933 by Brown and Williamson as an unfiltered 70mm "regular" cigarette, Kool was the first popular menthol cigarette. Spud cigarettes, introduced in 1927 by the Axton-Fisher Tobacco Company, had been the first menthol cigarette to be distributed and marketed nationwide, but Kool quickly overtook them in sales.

Kool enjoyed continued success through the 1950s, when growing public concern about the health risks associated with smoking began to take a toll on the Kool brand. Brown and Williamson responded to these concerns by releasing filtered varieties of Kool - first an 85mm "king-sized" filtered version in the 1960s that was followed by a 100mm or "long" filtered version in the 1970s. A 1953 Roper survey showed that only 2% of White Americans preferred the Kool brand. By contrast, the survey reported that 5% of African Americans preferred Kools[2]

The 1980s saw the introduction of Kool lights and it was also during this decade that the Kool brand began to lose some marketshare to other menthol brands, such as Newport.

In 2003, Brown and Williamson was purchased by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, and as a result of this merger, Kool became a Reynolds brand.[3] Soon after, Kool's iconic green and white pack, virtually unchanged for some 70 years, was overhauled and the original unfiltered Kool cigarette was discontinued around this same time. However, the changes did little to boost sales, as Kool continued to lose ground to Newport and other menthols.

On June 12, 2015, the Kool brand became the property of Imperial Tobacco Company due to a merger between Reynolds American (R.J. Reynolds parent company) and the Lorillard Tobacco Company.[4]

The Estonian Patent Office did not give the permission for Kool cigarettes to be sold in Estonia because of the name meaning "school" in Estonian language.[citation needed]


Kool cigarette advertising began with the character of "Willie" the penguin,[5][6] who was portrayed as several different professions, among which were a doctor, a soldier and a chef.[7] In the early 1960s, the image of the cartoon penguin was no longer used, and Kool instead began marketing their cigarettes by linking the country fresh, relaxingly cool taste of menthol to cool outdoor scenes portraying water or snow.[8] Former Kool Models include Steve Tyler.[citation needed]

Probably their highest profile advertising campaign in this time period was the placement of innumerable signs on entrance doors at many types of stores reading "Come in... it's Kool inside", indicating that the space is air-conditioned; some survive to this day.[9]

In 1971, Kool initiated an advertising campaign where consumers could mail order a Snark sailboat with the Kool logo on the sail — for $88 (later $99) along with one Kool carton flap — including delivery. The sailboats retailed at the time for $120. As one of Kool's highest scoring ads, the company received over 18,000 orders for "Sea Snarks" in 1971.[10] The Snark/Kool campaign won a national POPI award (given by the Point of Purchase Institute) as the most creative and inventive ad of 1971.[11] The Kool Snark promotion was repeated in 1972, adding option payment through charge cards — and again in 1975 for $139.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Kool sponsored jazz festivals and many advertisements from the era featured a musician or an actor, playing a saxophone. Also, Kool was notoriously targeted to African-Americans, as were many menthol cigarettes.[12] In 1975, Kool held a sweepstakes with a Rolls-Royce Corniche as the prize.

Sport sponsorship[edit]

Kool was the main sponsor of Andretti Autosport in the CART series from the 1997 season until the 2002 season. The team was known as "Team KOOL Green" during this period. In 2002, after the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement passed, Kool cigarettes could not be displayed on the cars, and the logo's were replaced with the 7-Eleven logo's instead.[13][14]


Kool cigarettes are mainly sold in the United States, but also were or still are sold in Canada, Honduras, Antigua, Bahamas, Jamaica, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Japan and Australia.[15][16][17][18] In Estonia, Patent Office did not give permission to sell them here because of the name Kool meaning "school" in Estonian.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Brands". Itgbrands.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  2. ^ "Why Big Tobacco Targeted Blacks With Ads for Menthol Cigarettes". Cbsnews.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  3. ^ "A Look into our Past". R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Retrieved November 8, 2016. 
  4. ^ "It's official: $27.4B Reynolds-Lorillard merger complete". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  5. ^ Willie the Kool Penguin at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 15, 2015.
  6. ^ "Kool Cigarettes". Advertisement Gallery. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  7. ^ "Kool Collectible Tobacco Cigarettes - eBay". eBay. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  8. ^ "Kool Asks: Is Your Menthol Cigarette Tasting Flat?". Brandhot.de / Hot Brands, Cool Ads. Archived from the original on October 15, 2014. Retrieved 2010-09-08.  In German.
  9. ^ "It's Kool Inside". Flickr.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  10. ^ "Kool Brand History". TobaccoDocuments.org. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Also in 1971, KOOL initiated a self-liquidator campaign whereby consumers were given the opportunity to purchase an 11-foot sailboat with carried Kool 1ogo and usually sold for $120. Consumers could purchase a "Sea Snark" for $88 and one KOOL canon and flap. The purpose of the offer was to increase the effectiveness of the ad; it was one of KOOL's highest scoring ads and was used again in 1972. KOOL received over 18,000 orders for "Sea Sharks" in 1971. A POP test was conducted in 1971 comparing the "Sea Snark" floor display with a non-liquidator KOOL display. Stores using the ordinary display failed to increase sales enough to justify the $6.00 store payment. KOOL sales re "Sea Snark" display rose enough to more than cover the display payment and cost. KOOL's Sea Snark promotion was repeated in 1972, adding option payment through charge cards. 1975: The Sea Snark offer was repeated in a self-liquidator campaign for $139.  Note: Original source uses both "Sea Shark" and "Sea Snark".
  11. ^ "History of Snark Sailboats". Sailboatstogo.com. 
  12. ^ "Detroiters' loyalty to Kool cigarettes in '70s frustrated Philip Morris". Motorcitymuckraker.com. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  13. ^ "CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Kool Green gets new colors". Motorsport.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  14. ^ "CHAMPCAR/CART: Dario Franchitti renews with Team Kool Green". Motorsport.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  15. ^ "BrandKool - Cigarettes Pedia". Cigarettespedia.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  16. ^ "Kool". Zigsam.at. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  17. ^ "Brands". Cigarety.by. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  18. ^ "A Review of Cigarette Marketing in Canada - kool". Smoke-free.ca. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 

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