So Gallaher has lost its Royal crest. The Palace has finally given
up the ciggies. The end of the gold packet must only be days away.
Benson and Hedges must be quaking in its boots.
In truth, probably the only real concern Gallaher has is related to the
hassle of removing the crest from everything permanent and I doubt
there’s much of that. Most of the materials in the cigarette marketplace
are pretty transient.
In some situations, losing the Royal seal of approval could be a blow to
the brand - a traditional butcher serving the upper echelons
Perish the thought that they might be judged by the value of their
In Gallaher’s case, I doubt whether any but a few of their consumers
would even notice the change.
Why? Simply, B&H has a well-established, high profile, sophisticated
brand strategy. Its brand equity is tightly bound into its pack colour,
visual language and curiosity advertising.
There are two groups to worry about: existing B&H smokers and new
(usually teenage) smokers. Existing smokers are a loyal bunch, rarely
swapping brands. It’s the taste that counts, apparently. In any case,
the crest is such a long-standing and widely used mark that its value to
the brand as a whole cannot be significant.
The new smokers are more tricky. They need to be influenced before they
have fallen into a long-term habit - the brand and its values lead the
assault. And with current attitudes to anything Royal bordering on
complete disinterest, it is unlikely that the removal of the crest will
be a major blow.
In the tobacco market, B&H falls into a distinctive category which has
built up brand values which give it special value. Where Marlboro wants
you to see yourself galloping through the desert, B&H want you to feel
like you are part of an exclusive club - capable of unravelling the
advertising clues and marching into your newsagent to request what
No, B&H’s brand owners should not lose sleep. Instead they should
concentrate on the visual and emotional equities they have worked so
hard to build.
They have far more important visual properties to work with than the
crest which usually appeared right next to the health warning anyway.