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February 16, 2007

Lipstick on a Camel: Sexy New No. 9 Brand Name For Women

camel-9.jpgThe New York Times’ Stuart Elliott just profiled RJ Reynolds’s new brand for women, Camel No. 9, which it will add to its herd of almost 30 variations on the Camel brand name (Camel Wides, Camel Turkish Gold, Kamel Special Lights and Camel 99 are just a few).

Reynolds has discovered that despite the massive name recognition and appeal of its 80 year old Camel brand name, only 30% of the its buyers are women despite the fact that women make up half of the smoking demographic, seeming to prefer competing brands like Marlboro (40% women buyers), Newport (50%) and female-orientated Virginia Slims.

200px-JoeCamel.jpgWith all due respect to RJ Reynolds, at first glance the brand name “Camel” is just not going to be much of a winner with women, given that the average camel is a large, humped, bad-smelling beast and most of the advertising around the name over the years has been decidedly macho (think Joe Camel and The Camel Man).

Targeting Women

Camel No. 9 seems to get around this problem by brazenly associating the iconic name with perfume, especially hoping consumers recall sound-alike Chanel No. 19 and, possibly, the perfume-tinged song “Love Potion No. 9.”

chanel-no-9.gifThe Reynolds reps insist that “No. 9” simply signifies “dressed to the nines, putting on your best.” But the slick black box with its hot pink piping looks like a it was deeply inspired by the Chanel box, as is the typography of the words “No. 9.”

I also cannot help but be reminded of the distinctive Tiffany (who also conveniently have their own perfume) box in terms of the overall layout as well as the teal color chosen for the menthol version. The Camel itself has been shrunk, centered and rendered in hot-pink fuchsia, now truly a brand logo rather than a motif, and the familiar desert scenery is gone.

nicolekidman-chanel.jpgThis is Camel by night - a glammed up version of the familiar brand name.

More than that, the slogan used to support the name has a distinct feminine feel: “light and luscious.” My feeling is that this brand name illustrates very well that you can choose your own product name associations and effectively reposition a sub-brand away from the parent brand if you know what you are doing.

Making women think of perfume when they see the the ubiquitous Camel? That is no small feat.

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Posted by William Lozito at February 16, 2007 9:15 AM
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