Brave New Branding

Integrated Services
  • Branding
  • Photography
  • Tradeshow
  • Print Campaign
  • Web Design
  • Web Development
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Making a difference by breaking the rules. Go figure.

When we were asked to create a branding campaign for a cigar company, the first thing we did was take a look at the competition. Two clear themes emerged: “heritage” (think: family patriarchs and tobacco fields) and “macho” (think: ruggedly handsome guy with a rare beauty on his arm). We knew, in order to stand out our approach needed striking, unfamiliar images and messaging. We also knew that, for many, smoking a cigar is a quiet ritual, a way of pausing and enjoying the moment, or simply getting away from it all. And so “escape” was born.

National print campaign with custom photography

We shot and created bold, arresting imagery that was then used in a consumer print campaign which ran everywhere from Cigar Aficionado to Maxim and Sea Ray Living. The images weren’t the only reason the ads stood out. This campaign was the first to audaciously omit the actual product. No tobacco field, no big boss man, no objectified females and (gasp) no cigar! Just a beautiful band, some artfully rendered smoke and a single word — "escape."

Creating a trade show buzz

Next, we focused on the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America tradeshow. Knowing that first impressions are everything, we went big and created a booth unlike any other, complete with up-scale lounge. In fact, we created more than 40 different custom graphics and applied them in ways that put the CAO booth in a class of its own.

In-store and on-line

The new visual motif worked its magic across multiple channels. We armed CAO retailers with point-of-sale light boxes, posters and postcards to promote in-store events. We also created an interactive website intro that allowed visitors to navigate through CAO brands using the various cigar bands.

A longlasting impression

Today, CAO remains one of the most recognizable cigar brands in the industry. And, this campaign has survived two generations of ownership. Once privately owned by a local, Nashville family of Turkish origin, CAO is now a subsidiary of a large European tobacco conglomerate. What’s more, if you find yourself between the covers of a Cigar Aficionado, you'll notice our campaign still lives. Pay even closer attention to the advertising and you’ll also see a few “other guys” are beginning to follow in our footsteps.