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Merchandising KENT in Hong Kong

KENT has been highly successful in Hong Kong, which is KENT'S largest single export market. Distribution is in the hands of a competitive company to BAT Hong Kong which has handled the brand there for many years. During the formative years in Hong Kong under Lorillard and subsequently under Brown & Williamson (since 1977), KENT was advertised using campaigns developed locally. After a considerable amount of pre-research the newly developed international creative approach for KENT - "Fresh, Calm, Mild" was introduced in June 1980 using internationally produced film overdubbed in Cantonese.
Historically large sums of money were spent on consumer promotion for the other leading American brands - VICEROY, WINSTON and the emerging MARLBORO. KENT had remained aloof from this and had also spent at a lower level on media. During 1980 the BWIT Regional Office in Hong Kong came to the view that although the positioning for KENT as the mild international cigarette was appropriate, the "Fresh, Calm, Mild" advertising could be enhanced by a programme of planned consumer promotion which had the intention of placing the brand more positively before its existing and potential consumers.
The key criteria were that:
1. The programme should have a strong local flavour and translate the international image into the local consumers' situation.
2. It should have a strong outdoor feel.
3. It should appeal to the younger smokers; a segment which had traditionally been KENT'S strength but in which MARLBORO was increasingly gaining ground.
Some of the previous competitive consumer promotions had been impressive more for their weight of activity than for relevance to any perceived strategies. One reason for this is that consumer promotion - although actively practiced in Hong Kong - had not always been approached as a specialist activity but had too often been left in the hands of the advertising agencies.
In line with the above strategy, a promotional brief was prepared which included the guidelines laid down under the trademark diversification programme. Because of the important opportunity presented for the brand a specialist consumer promotion company, Cato Johnson, was selected. The promotional umbrella had to be a correct and sensitive identification of a 'KENT LIFESTYLE' in Hong Kong, built on a thorough understanding of local motivations and aspirations. As a first step a promotional programme was developed, which contained a wide range of activities under the separate but closely linked themes of:
 1. Enjoy the exciting travel to desirable destinations with KENT.
 2. Enjoy your sport in Hong Kong.
 3. Enjoy the Hong Kong countryside.
 When developed the programme included the following activities: -
 Peak Time TV programming.
 The objective of this was to place the KENT name and its branding in reference to the "Fresh, Calm, Mild" campaign before the mass Chinese audience with high frequency. This exposure would serve to balance the main theme advertising which is by nature international and to emphasize the brand's local attractiveness.
 BWIT contracted with TVB Jade, the TV channel which traditionally takes 80% of the viewing audience in Hong Kong to run a show entitled Gin Paai Siu Yiu Yau (KENT Relaxing Travel) within the umbrella of their long running 'Enjoy Yourself Tonight' programme.
 Reactions were most encouraging. BWIT's show climbed into the fourth most popular show position in Hong Kong. An audience of 1.55 million people was achieved which is an 84% share of audience. This 20 - minute weekly programme ran for 26 weeks from July 1981 to mid-January 1982.


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