BRADFORD, PA: Lighter manufacturer Zippo played an integral role in influencing the US Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) decision last week to allow unfilled lighters in checked luggage.
All lighters have been banned in checked baggage since 1976, but the issue was revived earlier this year when the TSA banned all lighters on flights, whether in checked bags or carry-ons.
According to CEO Greg Booth, the company stood to lose up to 30% of revenues if the ban stood. Travelers who buy Zippos as collector's items or gifts make up a significant chunk of the company's business.
Zippo worked with advertising AOR Blattner Brunner's PR department on strategy and news alerts, and tapped DC law firm Williams & Jensen to lobby its state Senators, Arlen Spector (PA-R) and Rick Santorum (PA-R), as well as Representative John Peterson (PA-R).
The company made clear that all Zippo lighters were sold empty and proved the lighters were inert when unfilled.
The lifting of the ban was announced Tuesday, and Booth spent much of the morning speaking to the media. The AP ran the first story after a reporter read a Santorum statement that praised the decision.
Blattner Brunner also released a VNR of Booth's comments. He said the company had been closely linked to the developing story because the February 28 TSA announcement referred to one one of the banned items as "Zippo-like" lighters.
The company must now re-engage retailers who had abandoned Zippo during the ban.
"Some customers sent the product back, so we're going to go back and [court] them again," said Booth.
He added that the company would not lobby to re-allow lighters as carry-on items.