Of Cigarettes, Controversies and Customer Experience

Of Cigarettes, Controversies and Customer Experiences

CloudCherry | Featured | May 31, 2016

On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, about a million and a half blogs would be written extolling the virtues of this day and how cigarettes are a bane to society as we know it.

CloudCherry, like the way we work, is taking a slightly different view on smoking, tobacco and its evils. As twisted as it sounds, we believe that there are certain lessons to be learned from the Tobacco industry. Even in the face of overwhelming odds, they have always carefully crafted subliminal customer experiences to push their products over the counter. After all, when it comes to Customer Experience, there is no dearth of learning and if we have to learn from something that is unanimously agreed upon as “evil”, then so be it. Here’s a list of lessons to be learned from cigarette brands that shouldn’t get lost, even if it is ‘World No Tobacco Day’.

1. Get the right people on your side

Getting the right people for your customer facing reports is key. The experience that your customer has with a sales staff, call centre personnel, service staff, etc counts for a lot in the long run.

Nick Naylor, from the critically acclaimed movie Thank you for Smoking, encapsulates his morally ambiguous tobacco lobbyist profession in one amazing monologue – “Few people on this planet know what it is to be truly despised. Can you blame them? I earn a living fronting an organization that kills one thousand two hundred human beings a day; twelve hundred people. We’re talking two jumbo jet plane loads of men, women, and children. I mean there’s Attila, Genghis, and me, Nick Naylor the face of cigarettes, the Colonel Sanders of nicotine.

Nick Naylor had the unenviable but lucrative job of defending his tobacco clients against understandably scathing public opinion and there are many with his exact same razor sharp intellect keeping industry ending factors at bay.

2. Know what you’re selling

It also pays if you knew exactly what you were selling and how you were selling it. Coca Cola doesn’t sell Cola, they sell Joy. Heineken doesn’t sell beer, they sell irreverence to the norm.

Don Draper, the enigmatic adman from the critically acclaimed ‘Mad Men‘, made his fortune by peddling Tobacco products through advertising in the rollicking 60s. When faced with the dilemma of the Government forbidding tobacco companies from advertising the fact that cigarettes were safe, Don Draper saved the day for his agency by convincing his client to focus their ad budget on one brand — Lucky Strike — and to play up the benefits of the industry-wide practice of “toasting” tobacco.

Thus the tagline ‘It’s Toasted‘ which is still used on Lucky Strike packs today, was born. As the video outlines, the experience they were selling here was ‘happiness’, not cigarettes. Nothing is wrong with smoking, you’re fine. Pick up a pack of luckies and smoke without a worry in the world because ‘It’s Toasted’. And Lucky Strike sales spiked during a lean period for Cigarette sales.

It also helped that he lit a cigarette with so much effortless style, that I’d judge anyone for not lighting up one later.

3. Know what makes your Customers tick

Knowing what gets your customers to buy your product helps. Kodak (at least before they went extinct) sold the concept of Nostalgia, not photography products. Banks sell you hope and the promise of a better future, not banking products.

For decades, tobacco companies have been catching their customers young. The vast majority of all smokers begin their addictive habit even before they are 18 years old. If youngsters did not try smoking and go on to become regular users, the tobacco companies eventually would not have enough adult customers to make staying in business worthwhile.

The tobacco industry tends to latch on to novices by associating its products with fun, excitement, sex, wealth, and power and as a means of expressing rebellion and independence. These are really primal emotions for youngsters and the tobacco companies tap into that with horrifying ease.

4. Partnerships = Innovation = Sales

Never pass up an opportunity to partner up to fulfill your organisation’s goals. Some MBA’s might call it horizontal integration or leveraging opportunity. Sometimes, it’s just common sense.

In 2005, a cigarette advertising ban in England led Philip Morris, the manufacturer of Marlboro, to create an experiential campaign by transforming the insides of Britain’s upmarket bars and music events with stylish combinations of red and white furniture with a high degree of attention and splendour – the unmistakable colors of the iconic Marlboro cigarette pack.

Movie product placements were also an easy way for Cigarette marketers to reach their target audience. Combining the emotional appeal of movies and movie stars with their cigarette wielding personas was like shooting fish in a barrel. Here’s an article on Forbes about the same!

This would have been a slightly different read from all of the other blogs out there, but hey, we are passionate about Customer Experience and we look for signs everywhere! To know more about our loony little company visit, click here!

DISCLAIMER: Let it be made known that CloudCherry in no way promotes or endorses smoking. We are all about promoting customer delight, and it is but our intention to broaden our wisdom in this domain far and wide, no matter where this pursuit takes us. On this particular day, it has taken us into the evil land of tobacco and we emerge enlightened. This is, in no way, a promotional post for tobacco companies.