Once Upon A Time To Start Smoking

So there I was. Swiping my Chase debit card at Country Cupboard paying for my 6-pack of O’douls (Original, not Amber). All was going as expected until American Spirits hacked into my peripheral, infiltrated my senses with nothing more than a 3inch x 2.5inch piece of paper; clean, simple and too much for me to resist picking up off the check out counter. What happened from there was nothing short of a modern day marketing fairy tale.

That 3inch x 2.5inch piece of paper was a Trojan horse that once in my hands unfolded releasing 81 square inches of exactly what I wanted to see: Bold bright beautiful fonts. Charts that were both informative and somehow entertaining. Straight forward coupons, codes and promos that didn’t make me go, “pfffsssshhht, yea, I’ll get right on that.” Even the SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING was in some weird way welcoming. I know! How could that be?!  Even as I write this I still don’t know.

Picking up shiny objects isn’t a marketing miracle. Bugs do it, babies do it, and apparently Brandons do it too. My grandma’s parrot Tiki pecked the “ruby” from the ring I bought my mom for Christmas when I was in 1st grade…while she was wearing it! But what happened next is a testament to a great piece of advertising. I, a 26 year strong non-smoker, decided to go to www.tryamericanspirits.com and see if the website made me as warm and fuzzy as their print piece had.

With nothing to gain except access to one of billions of websites in the world, I eagerly filled in dozens of *required fields AND waited for verification that the information I entered was accepted by the American Spirits powers that be. My first attempt was denied because I lied about my birth date. Ashamed but still dying to reach the virtual holy land I entered true information including the last four digits of my social security number. I was in. It was beautiful. The blues, yellows and greens of their product packaging bled into the fields and skies of their website backdrop. Soft, round fonts got softer and rounder when I clicked on them. Site map? More like treasure map. I effortlessly navigated anywhere I wanted. Check that – everywhere I wanted. My brand-induced assumption that they had been rolling these natural wonders since the early 1400’s was corrected by their perfectly presented company story articulating honest roots and thoughtful expansion since 1982.

These individual pleasantries don’t merit commenting about on their own accord, but the connectedness of the American Spirit brand certainly does. From print ads to product to packaging to website and back, any way you slice it, it’s all jelly. I feel like I can give American Spirits a hug or put it on a shelf. There’s nothing missing and no more to find out. They’re transparent and confident without being brash or obvious in their efforts and I appreciate that. I’ve used more “feeling words” in this blog post about cigarettes than I imagine I would muster up in a marriage proposal and ironically enough, like 40% of marriages in this country, this love story too will end in heartbreak. As swiftly as American Spirits swept me off my feet they dropped me on my heart and broke it. The simple fact that their product causes cancer ensures that I, like many, will never commit to using their product. Albeit a bittersweet moral victory I think it’s a marvelous one as it pertains to marketing and it should be celebrated. American Spirits were able to whisk me away on a trip I knew would end in disappointment, but I did it willingly and with a smile on my face every step of the way.

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