Rothmans Winfield roll-out signals imminent UK launch

Rothmans has launched its cut-price Winfield cigarettes in Eire, positioning the brand as Australian and increasing speculation that it will subsequently be launched in the UK.

Earlier this month, Rothmans announced it would put the Winfield brand on its Formula One Williams team, replacing the Rothmans name in a 30m switch which points to the manufacturer’s ambitions to build Winfield into a global cut-price brand.

Drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen will be dressed in red instead of blue for the 1998 and 1999 seasons, as part of the new branding strategy.

In Ireland, Winfield is being given a unique image as a good value cigarette from Australia, where it is the leading brand.

Tobacco advertising restrictions are tighter in Eire than in the UK so branding communication relies even more heavily on promotional material, such as beer mats.

One mat, distributed in a Dublin pub last week, shows the Winfield brand across a map of Australia and the words: “New Winfield. Not 6p, but 10p less than most other king size” and features a logo of a kangaroo.

A source says: “Rothmans could be trying to associate the brand with the outdoor life – a sort of ‘Marlboro Man’ positioning.”

Winfield is gaining share in the German, Spanish and Benelux markets and was launched in France last year.

No one was available for comment at Rothmans UK as Marketing Week went to press.

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