Articles for Business Professionals

Branding Death Cigarettes

How can you create a powerful brand? Follow the advice of UK entrepreneur BJ Cunningham. This is so good.

BJ created a company called The Enlightened Tobacco Company in 1991, selling a cigarette called “Death Cigarettes”. It was presented in a black package emblazoned with a white skull and crossbones logo. Just imagine how this might appeal to the rebels.

His premise was to take a position that none of the other cigarette companies was taking. Great advice and at the time all the tobacco companies were denying any ill effects of smoking tobacco. The branding in the cigarette business was all about life style cowboy, sophisticate, artist, debutante imaginary stuff, and all lies.

So why not be different from the crowd and admit the truth. Come on smokers today know that tobacco smoking is bad for you. Tell a smoker that cigarettes can kill you and they will tell you, “Hey, it’s my life.”

So here are the words of ‘branding brilliance’ that resonated with me.

There are two ways you can create a brand either with oodles of money or creative positioning.

Nike does it with oodles of money.

Death Cigarettes did it with creative positioning as Cunningham explained in his three rules

1. Take a polarized position.
2. Make enemies.
3. Create tension.

Examine your position. How creative is it? If you have oodles of money like Nike then spend it on your brand. Otherwise, the only way you will build your brand is by creative positioning.

Take a position away from the crowd. Stand where no one else is standing.

Be bold. Be prepared to disagree with the status quo and make enemies along the way. Pick your market and be willing to annoy others.

Create tension. Make people choose. Create a controversy. Coke vs. Pepsi. Windows against Mac.

Who else can you think of that has created their brand by following these three rules of creative brand positioning?

Harley Davidson jumps to mind immediately. People love them or hate them. That is powerful branding. Remember, branding is about creating powerful emotions.

Are you ready to create your brand?

If so, follow these three rules for creative brand positioning

1. Take a polarized position.
2. Make enemies.
3. Create tension.

You will need to be bold. You will upset some mainly your competition and those who never buy from you. Can you live with that?

Have you noticed that the strongest brands have lots of enemies? Pick your friends and enemies and watch your brand soar.

George Torok is the coauthor of Secrets of Power Marketing the first guide to personal marketing for the non marketer. Claim your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” at
Arrange for George Torok to speak to your people or work with your team at or call 905 335 1887.

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