Salem: Brand History
Salem was introduced by R. J. Reynolds in May 1956, going national without benefit of a test market. A king size filter with white tipping, it was the first menthol filter on the market and had significantly less menthol than Kool, the only menthol cigarette then on the market, Advertising expenditures ran about $4,000,000 in 1956 and sales were a very healthy 4 billion.
The original Salem ad set the tone and style for all Salem advertising with a boy and a girl in a pleasing, cool outdoor scene (usually a shady woods scene) and copy headlined " Salem refreshes your taste", supported by "Menthol fresh — rich tobacco taste — modern filter, too. " In the body copy of the first ad was the phrase that has become synonymous with Salem television advertising, "Take a puff, it's springtime."
Backed with adequate advertising pressure: (approximately $7,000,000 vs. Kool $6,000,000 in 1957) but not the heavy introductory pressure that was becoming usual, sales responded nicely. By the end of 1957 Salem was about even with Kool in sales.
When Kool abandoned their established copy platform in mid-1958 and copied Salem's refreshing theme, the contest was over (if not before).
With a sensational 60% increase in 1958 to go on, Reynolds pulled the plug in 1959, spending over $18,000,000 (the biggest advertising budget that year for any cigarette except Kent, which was about the same). This was accomplished by shifting some TV properties from Winston to Salem. This paid off with an increase of 10 billion in sales. Added to copy in late 1959 was a claim based on Salem's switch to fast burning paper — "Special high-porosity paper breathes new mildness into the smoke . . . new freshness into the flavor . . . air-softens every puff." A number of brands added similar claims on high-porosity paper about that time, but the public took little notice and any effect on Salem's sales certainly could not be seen.
1961 was a continuation of this incredible success story. With no change in product, package or advertising, Salem increased 18.2%, and by the end of the year had edged Lucky Strike out of 4th place in the market.
Salem's basic copy continued but with some minor variations. The special high-porosity paper copy was changed to "the special paper that breathes: invisible porous openings — breathes in fresh air." The visual techniques were also modified slightly. The brand no longer opened with a winter scene and changed to a springtime scene with the first puff of the cigarette. The commercials now open with Salem green meadows and other spring scenes. Slight copy changes occurred during this period as well with, " Salem welcomes you to a wonderful world of softness, a wonderful world of freshness. Salem's softness freshens your taste." They claimed, "it's the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful world of Salem cigarettes." Late 1964 found Salem making major changes in their copy which subsequently became a future campaign. The copy went to, "Try something different for a change. Turn to Salem for a taste that's springtime fresh. "
Whether or not these slight modifications effected the brand is hard to tell, but for the first time since introduction Salem's sales indicated a slight break in its rapid growth. With no change in advertising, share of market slipped from 8.9% in 1962 to 8.8% in 1963 although it had obtained its highest level of sales, 44.8 billion cigarettes. This occurred with a budget increase as the brand reached its highest level of expenditures . . . $20,000.000.1964 brought continued loss of market share and for the first time a decrease in sales. Share fell to 8.4% in 1064 with sales dropping to 42.1 billion cigarettes.
During the entire year, Salem continued the campaign of "perpetual springtime" and the copy line "Try something different for a change. Turn to Salem for a taste that's springtime fresh." TV video situations featured scenes of springtime in various regions of the country, and print ads continued to use the now familiar boy and girl strolling through or relaxing in a pretty springtime scene.
Sales responded, and Salem gained both in units, 45.1 billion, and share of total market, 8.8%. Although still below their previous record of 8.9% market share in 1962, unit sales exceeded their previous record of 44.8 billion in 1963.
The 1965 advertising campaign continued without change until about August, at which time the copy line changed to "Try the flavor that's springtime fresh. Salem refreshes your taste." Base line copy continued to be "Rich tobacco taste — menthol soft taste." Video in TV and illustration in print continued with "perpetual springtime" scenes.
Sales increased to 45.7 billion units, a new record, but total market share declined slightly to 8.7%.
1967 (.269% menthol in King Size; .269% in Super Kings)
In late summer, smokers with tired cigarette taste appeared on the TV screen. A chorus sung the standard theme, and Salem was touted in actor-given dialogue as a good-tasting cigarette.
In the fall, the problem/solution had an announcer appear optically in the middle of the scene. He discussed the four o'clock taste. Waterfalls, trees, and green fields were in abundance throughout the year. Actor-given dialogue was often tagged: "New Super King-Size Salem, too." At the very end of the commercial, two packs popped on the screen. The whole approach was quite similar to Kool.
In 1967, $12,574,000 was spent behind the king-size style in TV. Print, to the tune of $2,657,000, looked exactly like Salem campaigns of other years. "Rich tobacco taste, menthol, soft flavor, springtime fresh," all with happy people.
At Christmas, newspaper advertising in New York said, "You can take Salem out of the country, but you can't take the country out of Salem."
In no case was the 99 mm brand featured or tagged in print along with the 84 mm version.
In June, after a test in Kansas City and North Carolina lasting only a few weeks, Salem Super Kings went national, Spectacolor to show length, its own magazine campaign with city scenes, and shorter-length TV spots introduced the brand.
Initially, Salem had a 20 mm filter and 24 mm of tipping. In November a change was made. The product was a 99 mm with white tipping, but now 30 mm with 25 mm cellulose acetate plug was used. Tar and nicotine were still the highest of any cigarette in the extra-length menthol segment.
The package for the longer-length Salem had a cartouche similar to Kool's which said, "Premium Length." The Salem signature moved to the top of the package in a block-like treatment. The relatively soft Salem green still persisted on both packages.
Copy lines were, "The one cigarette worth making longer" and a suggestion on what to do with the extra smoking time new Salem Super Kings gave took the form of "Walk the long way home and meet the neighbor and her dog," with scenes of the city again but with lots of greenery.
Salem 100's media expense for 1967 was $5,834,000. It was Split with $3,752,000 in TV and the remaining $2,048,000 going almost entirely into print.
Sales and share for the two styles were:
King Size: 40.5 billion 7.68% (trending down)
Super Kings: 2.6 billion .52% (trending up)
Total Salem: 43.1 billion 8.20% (trending down slightly at mid-year and slowly gaining towards year-end)
1968 — 1971
Salem's sales rose to 44.5 billion in 1968. Salem Super Kings (99 mm) were responsible for the over-all gain, more than doubling its 1967 sales with 6.6 billion units, while King Size dropped to 37.6 billion. Salem's total share was 8.4, although the King Size share dropped to 7.2.
Salem's advertising budget increased to $23.3 million, as did its CPM to $.52.
Although the problem/solution technique was still used early in 1968, Salem's advertising made heavy use of ''You Can Take Salem Out of the Country, But You Can't Take the Country Out of Salem."
Television viewers heard it put to music and saw Salem packs tumbling across country scenes, instant city to country scene changes and stop action on the word, "but".
Magazine ads featured a white silhouette of a Salem package containing the first half of the jingle, transposed on the typical Salem scene. Below was the actual Salem package and the completion of the jingle, "Take a Puff . . . It Is Springtime" was occasionally used as a sub-head.
Salem Super Kings, which reached national distribution with eleven other extra length extension brands* in 1967, was advertised separately from Salem Kings in its introductory stages. Since then, however, the two have generally shared campaigns. Occasional non-pattern advertisements and offers have been noted for the Super King version.
* Kool (99's), Newport (99's), L&M (Menthol 99's), Winston (Menthol), Winston (99's), Tareyton (99's), Kent (99's). Marlboro (99's), L&M (99's), Chesterfield (101's), Silva Thins (99's)
Sales declined in 1969 to 43.6 billion although Super Kings again rose to 7.6. King Size slipped to 36.1 billion but Salem's total share remained at 8.4.2
Salem's expenditures were cut back to $21.8 million and the CPM dropped to $.50.
Salem's 1969 advertising campaign continued with variations of the "Out of the Country" theme both in broadcast and in print. "Take a Puff ... It Is Springtime" came into wider use.
Salem Super Kings' 1969 campaign included "Springtime Lasts Even Longer."
Sales were up slightly in 1970 to 43.6 billion. While King Size continued to drop (35.0 billion). Super King continued to gain, now up to 8.6 billion. Though Salem's share of the market remained at 8.4, its segment share dropped to 36.4 as Kool continued to gain in 1970 both in total market share (8.0) and segment share (32,4).
Salem's expenditures rose to $22.1 million although the CPM remained at $.50.
Salem's advertising remained basically unchanged through 1970 except for the introduction of "Springtime, It Happens Every Salem."
Although it received little emphasis, a jewelry offer was run in certain women's magazines for Salem Super Kings in 1970. One ad offered a ring for two Salem Super King end flaps and $39. Another featured a charm bracelet for $205 and two end flaps.
At first glance, 1971 appeared to be a good year for Salem. Sales continued to increase, now to 45.96 billion. Salem Super King showed steady gains at 10.75 billion, as did Salem King Size at 35.2 (the first time since the introduction of Salem Super King in 19671. Salem's total market share climbed for the first time since 1968 to 8.6.
Yet during 1971 Kool King Size surpassed Salem Kings by nearly a billion cigarettes as the best selling brand of menthol cigarettes. Accordingly, Salem's segment share dropped to 35.9.
Salem's 1971 expenditures included $7.3 million for Salem King and $2 million for Salem Super King (Newspapers and individual supplement expenditures not available). About half of this went into magazines. The CPM was $.20 (without Newspaper and individual supplement expenditures).
The "Out of the Country" theme had been completely dropped by 1971, Instead, Salem's print campaign featured, "Springtime — It Happens Every Salem," and "It's Only Natural — Natural Menthol."
With electronic media no longer allowing cigarette advertisements, Salem seemed to turn to contests to attract consumer attention. In 1971 Salem co-sponsored the Winston and Salem Bowling Bonanza, and sponsored a boating sweepstakes, a "World Games" sweepstakes (aimed primarily at Blacks) and a vacation sweepstakes.
Salem Super Kings featured "The Long, Long Springtime" theme.
Salem King sales continued to nudge upward reaching 35.35 billion units in 1972. Super King sales were also up for the year at 12.3 billion. The brand's total market share remained 8.6%, but its share of the mentholated filter segment dropped to 35.2%.
Expenditures for the king size version were near $9.01 million. Magazines received over 39% of the style's budget with newspapers accounting for another 28%; outdoor ads, 21%; and national supplements, 11%. CPM for Salem King in 1972 was $.25.
The extra-length style had expenditures of $6.59 million in 1972 with magazines accounting for the major portion (38%) and additional support from outdoor advertising (29%), newspapers (27%), and national supplements (6%). Salem Super King's CPM was $.54.
The two styles shared most ads in 1972 as all Salem advertising centered around "Natural Menthol." The brand's illustrations continued to picture Salem smokers in grassy fields or near streams. Salem's advertising execution varied from full-page, black and white newspaper ads to full-color, horizontal, partial-page spreads. Full-page, four-color newspaper and magazine ads were most common for Salem in 1972.
During the first half of the year, Salem headlines read, ''Natural Menthol. Not the artificial kind. That's what gives Salem a taste that's never harsh or hot. " In July, copy was boxed-off with crossed green leaves and a single Salem, The copy and illustrations were basically unchanged, but headlines were altered to read, " Salem refreshes naturally!" in the second half of 1972.
A number of exceptions to Salem's 1972 campaign (perhaps test ads) were noted in various newspapers around the country. In October, giant headlines in Kansas City newspapers read, "Cotton Mouth! (Do you ever get it from your cigarette?), '' Copy lead into the "natural menthol" theme and a closing line added, " Salem refreshes naturally . . . every time . . . anytime!" Detroit newspapers ran a two-color, fractional page with a photograph of a local "Black fashion designer. The woman was identified as such and headlines read, "I changed to . . . Ripe-n-Ready Natural Menthol Salem." In November, a full-page, color ad, which ran in Pittsburgh newspapers, showed a couple near a stream with a man playfully splashing water on his female companion, A large headline read, "A Salem is . . . splashing around!" A tag line added, "A Salem refreshes naturally!"
Salem promotions in 1972 consisted of at least three contests including a " Salem Country Stakes" in April, the "Winston- Salem '300' Rowling Sweepstakes" in October, and a "Bike Stakes" also in October. All contests required entrees to include either two amply Salem packs or the phrase "Natural Menthol Salem" written in block letters on a 3" x 5" card.