Camel: Only the Finest Blend of Turkish Airplane Glue

As my cigarette of choice, Camel is one of the most recognizable cigarettes to date. What with an icon like Joe Cool doling out free swag like backpacks, boomboxes, hats, and (Gonna go ahead and date myself here) Walkmans to people who smoke Camels often enough, it's no surprise. With Marlboro really being the only other household name for cigarettes (though Newport could probably be in the running as well), Camel has caked over the lungs of millions with their distinct blend of Turkish tobacco. The brand has a renown for being a very rough cigarette, and though there are certainly rougher cigarettes out there, I can't think of the last time I warned someone of American Spirit's Perique Blend, and didn't get the response, "I smoke Camels".

Leather Jacket, Sunglasses at Night, Motorcycle.. any cooler and David Bowie would need to have a talk about the stability of the universe with Joe Cool.

So let's talk about Camels. The cigarette itself is.. well.. good. There aren't many things wrong with it despite how rough it is. Camel's are normally moderately priced, rarely reaching over 5.50 a pack here in Georgia. And if their normal Camel Filters aren't quite your style, they have plenty of variations; Royals offer a smoother smoke with more flavor than their regular filters, No. 9s offer something different than your average cigarette (so of course their a go-to for hipsters everywhere), Wides give you the sense you're smoking more than you need to be, yet still finish quicker than a 99. Then you have shit like Crushes for those smokers that can't make up their fucking mind. Aside from their cigarettes, Camel seems to be trying to find more ways to get that sweet sweet nicotine into your system without smoke. A quick recon of their site teases at future products like Sticks and Orbs (Yeah, I have no fucking idea. Their being released in one city at a time in limited supply. Probably because it's a stupid idea because people want to smoke more than they want the nicotine. Otherwise, Nicoderm CQ would be the tit of the town).

Something you don't know about Camel? They seem to market to kids. Beat around the bush however you want, but they fucking do. Is this on purpose? I don't think so. Honestly, I believe their marketing to college kids. By no means am I going to sit here and cry conspiracy on Camel for marketing to 12-year-olds, because that's just bullshit. But back in the 90's when there was an uproar about Tobacco companies marketing to children, Camel was at the center of attention with their Joe Cool campaign leading the pack. Even now their website is bright colors and shiny knobs designed for those with short attention span. Though Camel most likely does not intend to appeal to those under the age of 18, it just seems to bleed out in everything they do.

Honestly, people? Blame the parents. Camel just wants to sell a product with the idea that their product is cool. Every other damn company does the same damn thing. This right here? Not the company's fault.

Now to emphasize, I do not believe Camel intentionally directs their advertising to kids, although many people seem to think that way. I simply think that their advertising campaign is targeted so close to the 18 and up cut-off, that people focus on Camel more often than something like Marlboro (who targets the 30-something cancer surviving cowboys). In fact, I respect Camel for never faltering on their standpoint. They did not give into the controversy, and despite all the flak, continued doing what they do. So good on you, Camel. If anyone were going to kill me slowly over 25 years, I'm happy that it's you.

So let's skim their history, shall we? I'm not going to get too deep into it, because I firmly believe that I could sit here and type pages upon pages on Camel, but I won't leave you on the whole 'marketing to minors' note.

Camel is R.J. Reynolds' foundation. In 1913, R.J. did something no one else had ever done; The pre-packaged cigarette. With careful pre-advertising under the teaser "The Camels are Coming", Camels built up a fervor before they were even introduced (kinda like how people wet their pants for Halo 3). Once introduced, Camel exploded, selling 425 million packs in their first year. Talk about successful. Because of such success, Camel has always had an edge in promotion, and they wave their clout around like a black man with far too much Viagra. With promotional events such as "Old Joe" (a circus camel that toted around a wagon a-la Oregon Trail and handed out free packs of cigarettes) and Joe Cool's famous "Camel Cash", the brand has set the bar for successful advertising campaigns. My favorite to date was the limited edition "Break Free" adventure, which featured 10 packs of city-specific blends that replaced the standard Camel Filters. Each City featured a distinctly different blend of tobacco that made Camel stand miles ahead of their competition. For me, it gave new meaning to the slogan "I'd walk a mile for a Camel!" Because if they did that again, I fucking would. By the way, Seattle was my favorite blend. Tasted like fucking rain-water. Seriously.

Genius. Fucking. Marketing.

So what's next for Camel? As mentioned before, they're teasing Sticks, Strips, and Orbs.. and aside from those callsigns, not much else has been heard on the products. So I guess we'll just have to wait and see what's in store for the brand. They might change the face of smoking forever.

Or not. Because like Joe Cool has shown us, it's fucking difficult out-cool smoking a cigarette with a leather jacket and sunglasses. Now if you excuse me, I've got a Royal with my name on it.

1 comment:

  1. thats a really cute way to end this entry. like really cute. like awwwweee.