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Smokers can opt for Rock, Jazz or Blues - 06 Jun 2007

ITC has just packed a Classic punch. The tobacco-to-paper major has altered the packaging of its Classic brand of cigarettes with an all-pervasive musical theme.

Over the counter, the smoker now has a choice of picking up Classic Rock, Jazz or Blues. While on one hand, the company has wedded music to tobacco, on the other, it showcases contemporary capabilities in holographic board printing.

The three new variants of Classic captured in a musical ring are limited edition packs, launched earlier this week. Although the company maintains that the three musical variants of Classic are short-term offerings for the true connoisseur, one can’t help but notice a long-term play.

Classic, a premium cigarette brand, appeals to the affluent Indian who can easily identify with music genres such as Rock, Jazz and Blues. This may be an excuse for showcasing printing capabilities for a company which now gets 52.3% of its sales from non-tobacco activities, but it cannot conceal all that jazz about a rocking marketing plan.

For starters, the Tobacco Bill forbids brand extensions. If a brand name is strongly associated with a tobacco product, then as per law, it cannot be used for a different line of business. That explains why ITC discontinued branding its Wills cigarettes five years ago and chose Navy Cut instead. As for Wills, the brand was used to foray into retail (Wills Lifestyle) with telling effect.

In an industry where tobacco advertising is banned, repackaging is the next best alternative and often gives a shot in the arm to tobacco firms in the form of surrogate advertising. But when such ads (read packs) cover a thematic treatment, there’s more to it than meets the eye.