British American Tobacco (BAT) is understood to be planning the launch of a bourbon and a beer throughout Europe next year under its Lucky Strike cigarette brand.
Such activity has been explained as part of a wider strategy to earn extra revenue and avoid increasingly stringent restrictions on tobacco advertising in Western markets. It is being driven by BAT’s trade marketing diversification company (TMD), called the World Investment Company (WIC) (MW June 18).
One source close to WIC says a team of consultants, who advised the company from last September to this April, worked on three projects.
The first was a mail order catalogue which has been launched on a test market basis in recent weeks in the UK, Holland and Spain (MW June 25). The remaining two are the bourbon and a beer. Both products, like the catalogue, will be branded Lucky Strike.
One consultant who worked across the various projects says: “Lucky Strike is the oldest brand registered in America. And it is the only brand BAT has with youth appeal. The company wants to play on that.”
BAT’s other cigarette brands such as Benson & Hedges (Gallaher owns the brand in the UK), Kent, and John Player Special all appeal to older smokers. Trademark diversification activity – successfully used around Philip Morris’s Marlboro brand – generally appeals more to younger smokers.
BAT already produces a John Player Special whisky in Japan, which is produced through distiller JBB. JBB could again be used to produce these Lucky Strike products.
WIC general manager Dean Sims confirms that he has entered into talks about joint ventures with a number of companies, including looking at extending BAT’s brands into beers a spirits, but he refuses to comment on specific plans.
He says: “We have looked at beers and liquor and are looking at a number of areas. We wouldn’t like to comment on who we are talking to specifically or the business areas we are considering.
“We admit we are talking to a number of companies about where we can add value in specific areas.”