|Owner||ITG Brands, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco Company), R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (bought in 2003), British American Tobacco (sold outside of the U.S.)|
|Previous owners||Brown and Williamson|
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. Kool cigarettes sold outside of the United States are manufactured by British American Tobacco.
Launched in 1933 by Brown and Williamson as an unfiltered 70-millimeter "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.
Growing public concern about the health risks associated with smoking prompted Brown and Williamson responded to release filtered varieties of Kool: an 85-millimeter "king-sized" version in the 1960s, followed by a 100-millimeter or "long" version in the 1970s. The 1980s saw the introduction of Kool lights and a loss of marketshare to other menthol brands, such as Newport.
In 2003, Brown and Williamson was purchased by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, making Kool a Reynolds brand. The iconic green and white pack, virtually unchanged for some seventy years, was overhauled, and the original unfiltered Kool cigarette was discontinued. These changes did little to boost sales.
Kool cigarette advertising began with the character of "Willie" the penguin, who was portrayed as several different professions, among which were a doctor, a soldier and a chef. In the early 1950s, the company placed a number of decal signs at entrance doors reading "Come in... it's Kool inside", indicating that the space is air-conditioned.
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. Former Kool Models include Steve Tyler.
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. 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. 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. In 1975, Kool held a sweepstakes with a Rolls-Royce Corniche as the prize.
Kool was the main sponsor of Team KOOL Green in the CART series from the 1997 season until the 2002 season. In 2002, after the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement passed, Kool cigarettes could not be displayed on the cars for the IRL's Indianapolis 500, and the logo was replaced with 7-Eleven.
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. The Estonian Patent Office denied permission for the Kool trademark to be used in Estonia because the name means "school" in the Estonian language.
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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".
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