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Lucky Strike 'Original Red' packet
|Produced by||R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company & British American Tobacco|
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize its contents. Please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of the article's key points. (December 2010)|
Lucky Strike is an American brand of cigarette owned by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and British American Tobacco groups. Often referred to as "Luckies", Lucky Strike was the top selling cigarette in the United States during the 1930s.
The brand was first introduced by R.A. Patterson of Richmond, Virginia, in 1871 as cut-plug chewing tobacco and later a cigarette. In 1905, the company was acquired by the American Tobacco Company (ATC), and Lucky Strike would later prove to be its answer to R. J. Reynolds' Camel.
In 1917, the brand started using the slogan "It's Toasted" to inform consumers about the manufacturing method in which the tobacco is toasted rather than sun-dried, a process touted as making the cigarette's taste more desirable.
In the late 1920s, the brand was sold as a route to thinness for women. One typical ad said, "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet." Sales of Lucky Strikes increased by more than 300% during the first year of the advertising campaign. Sales went from 14 billion cigarettes in 1925 to 40 billion sold in 1930, making Lucky Strike the leading brand nationwide.
Lucky Strike's association with radio music programs began during the 1920s on NBC. By 1928, the bandleader and vaudeville producer B. A. Rolfe was performing on radio and recording as "B.A. Rolfe and his Lucky Strike Orchestra" for Edison Records. In 1935, ATC began to sponsor Your Hit Parade, featuring North Carolina tobacco auctioneer Lee Aubrey "Speed" Riggs (later, another tobacco auctioneer from Lexington, Kentucky, F.E. Boone, was added). The weekly radio show's countdown catapulted the brand's success, remaining popular for 25 years. The shows capitalized on the tobacco auction theme and each ended with the signature phrase "Sold, American." The company's advertising campaigns generally featured a theme that stressed the quality of the tobacco purchased at auction for use in making Lucky Strike cigarettes and claimed that the higher quality tobacco resulted in a cigarette with better flavor. American engaged in a series of advertisements using Hollywood actors as endorsers of Lucky Strike, including testimonials from Douglas Fairbanks concerning the cigarette's flavor.
The brand's signature dark green pack was changed to white in 1942. In a famous advertising campaign that used the slogan "Lucky Strike Green has gone to war", the company claimed the change was made because the copper used in the green color was needed for World War II. American Tobacco actually used chromium to produce the green ink, and copper to produce the gold-colored trim. A limited supply of each was available, and substitute materials made the package look drab. However, the truth of the matter was that the white package was introduced to modernize the label and to increase the appeal of the package among female smokers; market studies showed that the green package was not found attractive to women, who had become an important consumer of tobacco products. The war effort became a convenient way to make the product more marketable while appearing patriotic at the same time. Famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy was challenged by company president George Washington Hill to improve the existing green and red package, with a $50,000 bet at stake. Loewy changed the background from green to white, making it more attractive to women as well as cutting printing costs by eliminating the need for green dye. He also placed the Lucky Strike target logo on both sides of the package, a move that increased both visibility and sales. Hill paid off the bet. 
The message "L.S.M.F.T." ("Lucky Strike means fine tobacco") was introduced on the package in 1945.
As a result of British American Tobacco plc buying out American Tobacco Company in 1976, Lucky Strike came under control of BAT. The company acquired Formula 1s Tyrrell Racing team in 1997 and rebranded it as British American Racing the following year, sponsoring the team with its Lucky Strike and stablemate 555 brands. The team was bought outright by partners Honda by 2006, though Lucky Strike continued to sponsor the team until the end of that year. Tobacco advertising in motorsports
In 1978 and 1994, export rights and U.S. rights were purchased by Brown & Williamson. In the 1960s, filtered styles were launched in addition to a mentholated version called "Lucky Strike Green". This time "Green" was referring to menthol and not to the overall package color. In late 2006, both the Full Flavored and Light filtered varieties of Lucky Strike cigarettes were discontinued in North America. However, Lucky Strike will continue to have marketing and distribution support in territories controlled by British American Tobacco as a global drive brand. In addition, R. J. Reynolds continues to market the original, non-filter Lucky Strikes in the United States. Lucky Strikes currently have a small base of smokers.
In 2007, a new packaging of Lucky Strikes was released, with a two-way opening which split seven cigarettes from the rest. In the same year, the company used the world's smallest man, He Pingping, in their ad campaigns.
In 2009, Lucky Strike Silver (the brand marketed as lighter) changed their UK packets from the quintessential red design to blue, albeit with a red teaser outer covering the packet.
The cigarette brand is referenced in many modern forms of media. In the MSX2 version of the video game Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, a fictionalized version of the brand called Lucky Striker is said to be the protagonist's favorite. In the Tom Waits song "Kentucky Avenue", the first-person speaker refers to his "half pack of Lucky Strikes". In the ZZ Top song "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide", the second verse has the lines "They sportin' short dresses, wearin' spike-heeled shoes, They smokin' Lucky Strikes, wearing nylon too." Lucky Strikes can also be seen on a piano in Ralph Bakshi's 1981 animated film American Pop.
In the AMC show Mad Men, Lucky Strike is a major client of the Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper (and later its successor agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce), from the first season of the show until midway through the fourth season. The plot line of the show's pilot deals with the struggles of the firm's creative director Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) to come up with a new advertising campaign for the cigarettes, because new regulations mean that the brand can no longer claim to be healthier than any other cigarette, which has been the cornerstone of their advertising strategy. In the fourth season of the show, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce loses the Lucky Strike account to rival firm BBDO, which was in fact the real life advertising agency that Lucky Strike used.
Billy Joel's 1983 song "Keeping the Faith" from the album An Innocent Man mentions the brand in the lyric "I took a fresh pack of Luckies and a mint called Sen-Sen. My old man's Trojans and his Old Spice after shave."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Lucky Strike (cigarette)|