| We might as well start off with the results of our branding contest
proffered in the last issue. I know you are all anxiously awaiting the announcement of the
winners. I imagine many sleepless nights have been suffered by the over two thousand folks
who took the time to think creatively and we must here express our congratulations and
admiration for all of the effort shown. You can believe me when I say that paring down the
lists of names into finalist categories
was a pretty heady job. It was entertaining as well. The criteria for the contest can
still be found at the bottom of this page so if you need to see what all the fuss is
about, now is a good time to look down there. If you are anxious to see who won, you
simply have to click on the Guide to Online Treats graphic at right and
you will be taken to the first page of the Guide and there you will find the winners. (A
new window will open to allow this which you can close when finished, though we invite you
to peruse the Guide section of the magazine frequently as it contains
sources and deals on great RYO/MYO products and is updated as deemed appropriate). The
winner in each category will receive a new Premier Supermatic. We will also list second
place winning brand name entries and their authors who will be contacted as well with
information on prizes they richly deserve. So if you entered the contest, proceed to the
"Guide" page. Again we thank the large number of participants
and applaud your effort and creativity.
This issue of RYO Magazine is a continuation and the new content is in addition to last issues work. We have continued to receive so much feedback on the vast number of issues covered in the September/October publication that we decided to leave much of it in the current and add a few things that have arisen since its completion. We have, in truth covered just about every good quality brand of tobacco, injector, tubes, papers, etc over the last few years and while there are a few new entries we will discuss this time, we will wait until next years January issue to share with you some of the new things we anticipate will be ready for markdet by then. What is important is that you read this cover page again and become aware and involved in the tobacco/taxaxtion debate. This debate is growing and frankly government is getting out of control with the support of many groups bent on filling their personal coffers with your tax dollars.
We are beginning to hear serious debate in the media on just such issues, including fast food taxes, beverage taxes, with a lot more categories to come. The states are broke and the federal government is enjoying record breaking deficits so where else can they turn but your pocket book. The fact that downsizing of corporations and small businesses alike has been necessary for the private sector seems to have escaped the mentality and logic of government planners. It is time to get involved at any level possible and this magazine will increase it activities in these areas in the coming year. We will still bring you the information on every fine new product available in this industry as well as keep you posted on improvements (and possible degredations) of existing products. This year should be an interesting one and we feel pretty optomistic about the state of the economy, at least by mid-year. There may be war, there may be attacks here at home, but it is essential that the citizens of this country maintain control of this government and not allow excesses that sacrifice liberty for safety. Once you lose a right or freedom or accept a new tax, it is very difficult to reverse the situation.
We hope you enjoy the new year and will see you again sometime in January with a completely new issue. As we said there are a number of new things here now so be sure to read all of the sections and keep those emails coming. They are of tremendous help to us in planning our focus for this new year.
The new round of tax increases on cigarettes and tobacco have prompted a subsequent increased level of interest in the RYO/MYO alternative to pre-packaged, and/or brand name cigarettes. Because of this, our readership is growing dramatically, with many new readers to this site each day. From the very first issue in January 2000, a disclaimer stating our position on tobacco usage and discouraging visitors who are not of legal age, has lived at the bottom of every page of this magazine. To make sure our readership, especially those many new visitors to this site, understand the position we take on the issue of smoking, I will paraphrase and expand on our thoughts on tobacco immediately below but encourage you to read the full disclaimer.
The information in this magazine is directed solely to those people of legal age who already smoke, those who are trying to reduce their tobacco intake, those wishing to spend less money on tobacco, and who are interested in creating their own cigarettes using high quality tobacco products of their choosing - in general, those who wish to have, in our opinion, a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, wish to encourage people to smoke. Further, we subscribe to a more sane, more logical approach for those that chose to smoke, that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong commitment to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed without obsession, and hopefully, with minimal health risks. No sensible person should assume that the intake of smoke or other pollutants of any kind can be advantageous to your physical health, and we feel that any tobacco use implies demonstrable statistical risk. We submit that, if you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start. However, we are likewise extremely interested in future determinations as to the degree of risk based on dosage and smoking material and encourage much more research to be undertaken, using sound, scientific methods that can be looked at universally, as credible. It is our position that because of the sheer enormity of money that is involved in the tobacco debate, and the fact that such vast amounts of resource can breed fraud and corruption, as evidenced by the large number of claims of violations attributed to the cigarette industry, as well as counter-claims of fraudulent research methods by those on the other side of the issue, much more needs to be done to quantify the specific elements of tobacco smoke as well as specific elements of other sources of smoke and pollution in our environment that can lead to health problems. We therefore stress as a logical and necessary step forward, in order to ameliorate the controversy and lessen the divisive nature of the subject, that any and all tax revenues that are collected on tobacco, other than those funds needed to satisfy current regulation and enforcement, be applied to five (5) areas of investigation and compensation exclusively. These areas are:
The above needs more in the way of specifics, especially concerning the "scientifically qualified panels" and methods of redress of these panels by the public. The Master Settlement Agreement (which you should read sometime) already addresses the cigarette companies' faults and responsibilities of issues 4 & 5 above. However, unlike President Bush's Homeland Security Bill that grew from 40 pages as it left his desk to over 400 pages by the time it left the House of Representatives, there should be no need for over-engineering a simple and logical plan that addresses the stated interests of the medical community and the individual rights of the people to know. The details of taxation, punitive damages, and research are beyond the understanding of few.
Finally, this issue's cover article on branding that begins below should not be construed as an opportunity for, or the desire of, the RYO/MYO industry to garner new customers from the ranks of current non-smokers. This piece is, as are all of our reviews and other content, intended as an exercise to explore the ways people that smoke pre-packaged, manufactured brand cigarettes can be attracted to the more moderate, less obsession driven practice of RYO/MYO. This migration should not supercede quitting smoking altogether but not everyone WANTS to or is going to quit. Some folks actually enjoy the taste of tobacco. We hope they will find peace and moderation in their enjoyment. - the ed
Time has been measured differently in different cultures for as long as the term culture has existed. Western society has a pre-occupation with the subject that is often carried to the extreme. Nonetheless, this very obsession has been instrumental in fostering many truly worthy accomplishments. I run several businesses with the able help and support of my business partner, and editor, Linda Roberts. With a small staff we manage to publish this magazine. Simultaneously, we are working to have several issues in the can for the print version's debut coming early next year. Likewise we have created a new musical instrument, instruction, and recording oriented online publication, "Fingerpick Magazine" due for release early next year which will ultimately find life in print as well. We consult with musical instrument manufacturers and technology companies as well as the tobacco industry. In addition, our parent company, The Andromedan Design Company, markets several lines of non-tobacco related products. Our products are well known at the retail level in many countries around the globe, and are used in numerous and diverse industries from medical, music, and optics, to space. A number of these products were developed, patented, and trademarked by Andromedan. And Linda manages to find time to write a baseball column as well "Linda Roberts Baseball Diary". That is some of what we do. Who we are is more complex but it would not be an exaggeration to say that ours is a busy adventure. We feel a personal relationship with most every one of our customers , and readers, and it is a relationship that flows both ways.
How can a small handful of individuals accomplish all of this? The simple truth is, in addition to the obvious cliche of hard work and dedication, and the fact that her children and my children are grown and no longer underfoot, we have, quite honestly, minimized the need for sleep. More important yet, we make it a point to keep things light around the office. Linda and I, as principals in the company typically put in sixteen hour days, most every minute of which we enjoy because we are in control (an illusion?) and we reap directly the benefits of our labors and fortunately have great relationships with our many associates and clients. There is considerable satisfaction for me in writing RYO Magazine. Though it is only one of many professional interests and responsibilities, I believe so strongly in the precepts of individuality, free will, and self-control, and good-science as absolutes and find writing, especially about a subject as fascinating as the burgeoning RYO/MYO industry, energizing and fortifying. But above all, we see great potential for a better understanding in and of the world around us and we find that best appreciated with a gentle touch. Though we have certain schedules to meet in our various business endeavors, this particular love of mine, this RYO Magazine, is produced in an unhurried, and caring manner. We never simply crank out a new issue to be current and we are not here to sell product. Instead, when I decide enough new information has been gathered, and enough new products merit exposure to make for an interesting new issue, a new issue is born. It is my responsibility to make that call.
We settled early-on for the viability of a quarterly schedule and, for the most part, adhere to it. We date this publication based on what has occurred in the preceding months, and usually have enough new information of sufficient interest to publish on time which is, on average, every three months. To be clear, the August/Oct 2002 which you are now reading covers that which has occurred during that time period. We find traditional dating schemes inefficient to the real time nature of the on-line process as well as limiting to the proper communication of creative ideas inherent to our philosophy. We don't hype products, even our own. Rather, we share information we gather from a multitude of sources but, of course, we let people know what we offer. We avoid, at all costs, the hurried, frantic, and aggressive posture that has caused many problems in the tobacco industry, in our communities, in the political arena, and in the free market economy in general. I am told that many are surprised at my passion for this industry. Well that comes from readers, reporters, the pro's and con's, and all the people within and from without this industry who, each in their own way, are a constant reminder of the magically communicative, special times we enjoy.
Now the upcoming print version due early next year is going to have different, more stringent and traditional publication deadlines like all print periodicals but will have works of fiction, non-fiction, political essays, interviews and very "edgy" political humor both in the form of prose and cartoons. Though it will have a strong undercurrent of the philosophy of the MYO world and will discuss tobacco issues and products, it will not be limited to such and it will not be dependant on reviews of new products to fill its pages. While RYO Magazine online has always made an important part of its main focus the introduction of the myriad of products that are essential and noteworthy to the RYO/MYO experience, we feel strongly that increasing the awareness of the underlying facets of this liberating process requires a print publication that will move, and appeal to, an even wider audience.
Because of the incredible reach this magazine has enjoyed, due exclusively to its enormously interesting and interested readership, at least four hours per day is spent in direct communication with our readers. I feel that there is no better way to help folks understand the exciting possibilities provided by the RYO/MYO industry, and by the philosophy of self-control, than by personally responding to each and every one of their communications. It alone could become a full time job but it's one from which I gain a great amount of satisfaction. The quantity of these communications remain steady throughout the life of each issue. We have almost NO negative messages directed our way, literally less than a dozen in three years, which I still find surprising given the controversial nature of tobacco today. We find that our readers visit each issue many times and explore the archives frequently to find something they may have missed. I spend a lot of time talking with state revenue departments about upcoming taxation and regulation issues and several hours a week speaking with media of various ilk as well. We are also in open contact with every manufacturer in this business, as well as many distributors and retailers. We have great sources within the industry and value their unswerving cooperation, support, and honesty. We have good relationships with politicians, anti-smoking groups, pro-rights groups, anti-tax organizations, and various political bodies at local, state and federal levels. A number of noteworthy print publications have acknowledged our work including the New York Times and The Detroit free Press and a great amount of interest is growing concerning the MYO methodology in college campus newspapers and as the subject of marketing and health theses in graduate schools. As far as I know, no other related publication, online or print, has our reach and certainly none has our passion for the subject.
To put more of a personal touch on this piece and give you some insight into my motivations and enthusiasm for this magazine and the MYO industry, an example from a simple incident that occurred to me may be helpful. As I took a break a few hours ago from the keyboard. I went to have a bite to eat and as I munched, I turned on one of our video monitors and someone was playing the film "Field of Dreams". You must have seen it but after you read this, watch it again. It will underscore my passion and probably yours for certain things we once experienced and reinforce the importance of holding on to those things we determine personally inspiring and precious regardless of how meaningless they may seem to others.
As I sat munching away on my tofurkey (tofu/turkey) blintzes (boy is that a load) the film had reached the part where Ray must face selling the farm and tearing down the ball field he has built. James Earl Jones's character, writer Terrence Mann, then speaks to Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) about what baseball has meant to this country. It is fair to say that I am moved by words well carved. From his soliloquy I quote:
Now baseball has an atmosphere that is unique. The smell of the field, the grass, the smell of the leather, the wood, the food, everything about the game is an intense sensory experience for player and fan alike. I realize that not as many people feel about the game as they once did, but part of the reason is that it is, after all, a business to some. Well any business can retain magic if the participants insist on making it so. Most of the players make serious attempts to duplicate this magic every day during the season. Unfortunately, the owners do not. Anyway, I turned the film off as I was returning to my office and, as I was leaving, a spokesperson for the Concerned Women of America was on the O'Reilly Factor rampaging on about the fact that Marriott (Hotels) have porno movies available in their suites. (Of course so does every other hotel I have stayed at) They are pay per view extras and are certainly not imposed on anyone who wishes not to watch them, but nonetheless, the dried up old lifeless bag (am I too cruel . . . let me think . . . nope!) was bent on making sure no one would have access to such filth. This lack of tolerance for things personal, yet perhaps offensive to some, is precisely why I am energized to write what I do. Life needs the sour with the sweet to make distinction between the two more powerful. For instance, there are things about baseball games that I sorely miss. Cigars for one. In fact, every time I think of baseball or go out onto the field to play home run derby (one of my passions) with the much younger players I know, I can still smell those wonderful aromas wafting from the stands. We go to PacBell Stadium (the closest MLB venue to us) at least once a year to see a friend (a kid actually, I helped coach and who spent many hours in the batting cage I built in my back yard) who now plays shortstop for the Pirates. Using the South Entrance to the stadium (where the best garlic fries stand is located), the "Field of Dreams" quotation above resides on a north wall as you enter and many stop to read it. It evokes passion in most all who see it. But while passion is a wonderful human motivation, it is a sword that cuts both ways. Image and context are vital to human decision making and these two concepts can ultimately either help or sully the reputation of the RYO/MYO industry. For instance . . .
There is a very small smoking (for cigarettes) section at Pacific Bell Park. You can't even see the game from this location, but they do have video monitors and the garlic fries stand is in clear view, thankfully. Well, I pulled out a cigar and lit it and the looks I got, even in this isolated and windy smoking area were, to say the least, ones of annoyance. When the game was over and we were walking back to our hotel, I smoked the damned thing the whole way, well almost. Now San Francisco is a very crowded town with lots of auto, taxi, and bus traffic. Walking down the street with the stogie in my mouth, I actually saw people move their children to one side, having them stand next to buses and other vehicles that were spewing fumes far more toxic than anything coming out my face. No one said anything, but you could see the fear in their eyes of the horrible thing I was puffing on. Now all of you should know that I reject the idea of indoor smoking and feel it best done outdoors in the fresh air. Where I was walking, there was little fresh air as is always the case in any area that is near fossil fuel burning engines. Consequently, a degree of guilt came over me and I finally put it out until I could get away from the mob and could puff to ecstasy. But it was the lack of tolerance and, more important, the look of fear that concerns me most. There are admittedly risks out there, but you would have thought I had a belt filled with C-4 strapped around my waist. And worse, the choice to expose their children to vehicle exhaust only enhances my view that the intolerance of others, with tobacco specifically an example, can lead to over-reactions which likely overlook greater risks that exist in our environment. There can be no doubt that labeling has a great impact on people. It is visual and so is branding. - I will cover more about tobacco perception in this issue's Editorial Section entitled, "Self Indulgence."
Now baseball and tobacco are far different things except that both involve degrees of risk (stand in the batter's box with some serious horse throwing high and tight cheese if you don't believe me). What is important here is that a good tobacco can give one a very pleasant experience when used in moderation and those experiences often relate to very magical times in one's life. The human spirit needs those kinds of reminders (passions if you will) so that the beauty and specialness of existence is kept in honored perspective. We try very hard to put these kinds of feelings into this magazine and, for that matter, every other venture with which we are involved.
The emerging Make You Own philosophy, (which is basically to regain control of our ability to chose) especially as it extends well beyond the scope of tobacco, is potentially a very powerful political force that, with enough visibility, could forseeably change the way our government looks at the control of its population and better define the risks governments take in supporting tax-driven, social engineering schemes. We at RYO Magazine are dedicated to the prospect of accurate and fair information regardless of subject, as well as the uncompromising appreciation of quality above profit. Profit will come from quality and have more lasting benefits as well. We also believe that given complete and honest data, humans are more than capable of making wise decisions. With the recent increases in taxation on packaged cigarettes in so many states, even greater interest is being directed at this magazine and the industry as a whole - this is increasing daily. We feel an obligation to play it straight with our readers, who come from every point of view imaginable, from every continent on the planet, as they are our most valuable resource. I felt it time to have a personal conversation with each of you just so you know and understand the source.
While contemplating the spirit intended from all of the above, it is now time to explore with us one of the possibilities that can lead to a brighter future for a truly fascinating industry that has a potential client base of more than 50 million participants in the US alone and over a billion worldwide...There will be questions - and a chance at the end for you to get involved and contribute some ideas of your own. You have never hesitated to before.
The last time someone created a new brand of product was . . let's see . . . about 4 minutes ago. There are roughly 8,760 hours in a year or, based on that close approximation, 525,600 minutes. And every year, worldwide, literally millions of new ideas become solid viable objects and most are intended to be sold to others. No country on Earth creates and produces more new product brands than the United States. Well, let's qualify that a bit to say that no country on Earth creates products with the intention of them becoming a "popular" brand in greater quantity than the US. In most countries, products are created to service local needs and very few have names or hardly even any identity oriented packaging scheme. You get what you see and, in most cases, these products serve an immediately useful function such as cooking related, construction related, or are simply decorative in nature. Most of these products do have names. Some new products are very good, some are completely goofy. Some are truly useful while most are not. In that latter category, a great majority have no chance of making any significant sales impact and the world is usually a better place for their failure. But in the US, a surprisingly large number of absolutely useless "new ideas" gain surprising recognition and subsequent market share if only temporarily. Most major urban centers in the industrialized world have avenues that look like the photo at right of Picadilly Circus in London. Times Square in New York, Tokyo's Sony Square, the Vegas Strip, LA's Sunset Boulevard, and many others are indicative of the power of brand names splashed unabashedly in neon. But what makes a brand name? Is it the power of the product itself, the manufacturer's reputation, the need for the product, the ability of the name to describe what the product is? Perhaps it is the length of time that a product remains visible in the market place that leads the buying public to consider it a brand name. Well, actually none and all of the above. But more to the point of this exercise, given the RIGHT name, all but the most ludicrous of products have a chance of making some money for the producer. Just as assuredly, the WRONG name can destroy a product's credibility and attractiveness before it has a chance to find its audience. Naming products is tricky business and there is no right or wrong formula that ensures a successful brand.
Because there are so many possibilities to consider, and because the certainty of success is so elusive, the naming of products is hardly a science (although the advertising consultant industry would have you believe otherwise). A few rules are fairly clear. The name must be short, easy to pronounce AND remember, look good in large type, and most importantly, sound so familiar or unique that folks who have actually never heard the name before still feel they recognize it. The name doesn't have to be a real word but it must be memorable. It can be the first (rarely) or last (commonly) name of the product developer, can be a geographical location, or a particular title of a lifestyle or philosophy. I'm sure, if you think about it, you can find brand names that fit into each of these categories.
Some brand names are descriptive of what they are but this tact is usually not a wise one. The "Perfect Wrench" is a poor name for branding, while the "Twister" could foster a whole line of related products. Even better yet, "TorqueMaster" would open up even more possibilities including an iconic spokesperson much like the Maytag man. Look at the soft drink industry, for instance and consider the name Coca Cola. The name did describe an ingredient which was part of the original formula (coca) and therefore what the effect the consumer could expect from consumption (a lift). But that was a very long time ago when elements of the coca plant (yes the same plant that cocaine comes from) was the active ingredient of the soft drink. For a very long time, this highly reactive and controversial substance has been absent from the beverage, replaced by the more acceptable, caffeine. Other subsequent competing carbonated colas had varying schemes to attract attention and market share. Pepsi followed the mindset of providing the drinker a lift (Pep), while Royal Crown (which was one of the top three for many years) chose the route of the implication of elegance. In general, the names of carbonated soft drinks conveyed activity rather than leisure e.g., Sprite, Squirt, 7UP, and so on, with some newer brands like the caffeine intensive Jolt Cola about as subtle as No-Doze. There were exceptions, such as Nesbitt, which made drop dead good grape soda but in most cases, soft drink beverages conveyed images of energy rather than relaxation.
On the other hand, the generic soft drink offerings are completely void of branding motivation or effect. You have Safeway Select Cola (Safeway), Sam's Cola (Wal-Mart), Simply Soda (Costco), and so on. Now, none of these are really advertised or sold outside of their namesake stores and have little branding relativity except for the fact that they are associated with the over all brand name of their source. They are, as most generics, a low priced alternative to the brand names and attract customers simply because of price or convenience. Many are inferior (but not all) to their brand name counterparts. However, in the case of Costco's brand Simply Soda, I truly prefer its flavor over Coke and Pepsi and you know how picky I am about everything. Now I must admit that I got into that brand a number of years ago when I was living in Alaska and brand name soft drinks were quite a bit more expensive, mainly due to higher shipping costs ultimately related to smaller packaging. For instance, a six-pack of Pepsi could cost as much as a twenty-four can flat of Simply. At the time, I was drinking a dozen or so cans per day (I have since learned that that was an obsession that had its health consequences - not weight gain in my case, but kidney stones at least for me - and since then I have begun drinking a couple of gallons of water per day instead). But the point is that I enjoyed the flavor immensely and today, though I drink only one or two "sodas" a day, and have no problem affording Coke or Pepsi, I still prefer the Costco generic. Now to digress a bit:
Remember that last time we covered, with a considerably wide swipe of the temporal brush, everything from the extinction of the dinosaurs to the exploration of the cosmos. This time, though perhaps a bit more limited in scope, we are exploring one of, if not, THE single most definitive elements of our society, how it affects each one of us and most assuredly, the future of the MYO industry. For sake of context, I will confine the following adventure to the US but much of what we will explore effects the industrialized world in general and even many of the developing nations, who, though they dislike much of what we stand for, for some reason still want for a piece of that spirit, that brand name that is indicative of Americana.
The examples of branding noted above are symbols of the way we in this country define our very lives. We buy things we are familiar with and practice habits we are used to because of a perception that if a practice or product is well known it must be superior. It is as if some form of natural selection has kicked in to assure us that the products and symbologies that endure, represent examples of survival of the fittest. Such thinking, while understandable, is not necessarily a practical approach to ensuring what we consume is the best possible alternative, not to mention the most cost-effective. For instance, given the same price, one would almost always buy a Sony or Panasonic appliance rather than a Goldstar although most if not all of the components inside are identical. And many of us will spend a great deal more on certain products because their higher price somehow assures us that their quality is superior. My ex-father-in-law, who was an example of the supreme capitalist, once told me that the model he followed to accumulate his considerable wealth was quite simple. "Try to give away a bag of @#$% and there will be few if any takers. Charge a premium price for it, and people will line up for the opportunity."
This is no doubt a rather cynical exaggeration of what nonetheless is a truism about how we as consumers too often assess quality. Brand names give one that confidence in the ephemeral concept of quality that often flies weakly in the face of common sense. And this belief system is as firmly entrenched in our political system as it is in our economic preferences. Why else do incumbent politicians have such advantages over new office seekers. It is why television time is so important in influencing the choices of voters. Name recognition. Cynical as it may sound, the fact is the most recognized name often is the most voted for especially in local election for positions like judges, commissioners and council members. few people at the local level have a clue as to the accomplishments of political animals at this level but the voter does remember names they hear frequently enough. So like it or not, let's accept for the moment that name recognition is the way consumers often make decisions. There is no substitute for familiar icons that are recognized as either representing brands or lifestyles. Remember Rula Linska? Therefore, creating names for new products that have the appearance of being recognizable ought to be a priority right after choosing the target market and the quality level to be achieved.
Now some of the preceding dogma is what you will learn in marketing class 101, but often those teaching the subject and, yes, even those writing the textbooks, have little or no experience in the real world of living or dying (figuratively, of course) with the success or failure of a new product line. It is analogous to song writing whereby for a period, most successful songwriters seem to have a stream of hits and then suddenly their writing is no longer relevant or appreciated. And it is not that the audience changes, though that is often where the blame is laid. No, it is the fact that creativity can be a very fleeting visitor, especially in those creative endeavors that require positive fiscal feedback and acceptance from others. One should never assume creativity will last any more than fame or popularity. That is why Bob Dylan writes good songs and bad song and why more than half of all Madison Avenue ad campaigns have mixed or non-productive results. It is why TV shows come and go and why hit films are often those that few believed in during the early stages of development. And finally as to film, it is why the NAME of the film is almost never finalized until the film is completed. To put it simply, creative endeavors of all formats must be FLEXIBLE and creating a name worthy of branding may not be best used for the product for which it was originally intended.
So now the name designers find themselves looking at backup strategies, or at least should. With Coca-Cola, it is likely that name would have never been applied to a line of shoes but Nike on the other hand could have been many products and certainly, as we know today, in fact is. Brand names with all of the other characteristics that we have explored must also, and most importantly, be without product boundaries. Much like Sony, Nike, and most of the truly inspiring brand names we find inundating our environment, brand names need to have a universality that transcends local or time-constrained trends AND defy specific product categorization. So now follow with me and let's look at how all of the above can help an industry in which most of our readership are active participants.
The RYO industry (hand rolling tobacco) is very old while the MYO industry (making one's own cigarettes by injecting tobacco into pre-made filtered tubes) is relatively young (by perhaps as much as several thousand years as a matter of fact). As a point of reference and comparison, the packaged cigarette industry in the US, being over a century old is young still in comparison to the RYO experience. The Cigarette industry certainly has its icons and has been vastly more successful in this area than the RYO field. Monuments to branding like Camel, Marlboro, Winston, Kool, Newport to name a very few, are true iconic symbols and all have certain identity strategies behind their name choices. Camel for instance conveyed the ambience of Turkish exotica from a time when these kinds of imported cigarettes were very popular in fashionable, prohibition era circles. Winston is simply a location of great tobacco production. Marlboro, like Royal Crown Cola, hints at the luxury of the English aristocracy, Kool is a direct reflection of the menthol sensation, while Newport use both the refreshing image of water sports and of luxury resort leisure time. Traditional RYO labels like Bugler, TOP, Bull Durham, Drum, etc., have had a very long life, but are far less inviting and romantic in nature (and probably less well thought out) than their packaged counterparts. TOP does convey quality as an adjective and Durham does place location within tobacco country, but what the hell Bull, Drum or Bugler have to do with anything remains esoteric to most. Now I happen to know some of the history of these names. For instance, Bugler refers to a time during the FIRST World War when our servicemen were introduced to handrolling in Europe and developed a real taste for it. There are other little inside theories (almost urban legends if you will) as to why rolling products have the names they do, but names like Rizla can truly be traced to a location and family of tradition. Riz being the French dialectic word for rice while the La came from the La Croix family that actually started making the rice papers many centuries ago. One might wonder why the papers did not come to be named La Croix or La Riz, Riz-Oix or even RizCro. One should not wonder too long, as the musicality (how it sounds when spoken) of a brand name is far more important than how accurate is its descriptive nature.
The MYO world, as I said before, is relatively young compared with RYO and manufactured brand cigarettes as well. Unfortunately, the branding choices made by many in the MYO industry who are not direct carry-overs from RYO history are pretty mundane and tend towards the utilitarian despite the fact that so much historical marketing data is available to those who create the names, emphasizing the importance of branding. In fact, most products that are exclusive to MYO like tubes and injectors (even that word scares folks though stuffer is even worse), sound more like industrial equipment labels than consumer oriented products. Of course, tobacco is not produced with just injectors in mind so the great old names associated with fine tobacco like Stokkebye, with Bali, McClintock, etc., had no reason to change their branding schemes for their inclusion in this burgeoning industry. Now ten years ago I had never even heard the name Peter Stokkebye. In fact, it took a couple of years after that before I could properly pronounce it. However from the moment I saw it on a can of tobacco, I somehow 'knew" it must be classy. The name looks good and when you correctly pronounce it, it sounds good (stoke-a-bee). It was years later when I finally met the man himself and of course, after that, I knew that my initial impression of elegance and quality was well placed. Peter has been an icon in the pipe tobacco industry for a very long time and enjoyed the same reputation in the rolling industry but to a much more secular crowd. By the way Peter has a book (at left), his biography actually, that you would find fascinating if you love good tobacco as I do, and are curious as to its production and roots, not to mention if your are interested in sharing the adventures that this fascinating human being enjoyed on the road to becoming a true tobacco icon. If you are interested, click here and we will let you know where you can buy it. The title, "The Life & Good Times of a Tobacco Man," pretty much sums up the episodic flow of this work and all that have read it to date have been enriched. We recommend it highly as we feel it important to understand the amount of care and hard work involved in creating incredible tobacco blends as well as the decades of experience necessary to even begin to understand producing tobacco as an art form.
It is our observation, and we have found few to disagree, that the RYO market has remained reasonably the same for a very long time, especially in the US. A certain portion of the population here will always prefer rolling their own cigarettes. While in Europe, handrolling is FAR more popular than here, Americans continue to gobble up pre-made, brand name cigarettes because they like a finished, more elegant looking things sticking out of their faces. We are a very image conscious culture which is why advertising does seem to work better here than elsewhere in the world. We have a middle class which is almost unique in its substantial wealth and buying power, and that middle class is continually at odds with their dreams of upward fiscal mobility. In other words, most of us want to make a lot more money, or at least look like we already do. This tendency presents an interesting opportunity to the emerging MYO industry and has some real pitfalls as well. We all know the trouble Big Cigarette companies have got themselves and the rest of us into by alleged over aggressive marketing schemes as well as alleged product dilution/alteration strategies. I use the term alleged to give some credence to the fact that the "evil" the cigarette companies have done has been somewhat overstated, in my opinion, especially if you look at the punitive financial costs of these ill-deeds (trillions of dollars overall) and the financial windfalls the prosecution of these offenses have provided to attorneys and so-called health conscious organizations, not to mention all levels of governmental revenue agencies. And, more to the point, little of this windfall has gone to those supposedly damaged by tobacco usage. I also use alleged because I have not personally seen all the data (though I have seen some and it is, at first glance, pretting damning) and have serious reservations about some of the so-called medical research conducted to date. One thing I am sure about however, is that the cookie-cutter products produced by the cigarette manufacturers is inferior in taste to MYO products and the packaging schemes can lead to obsessive consumption. But, and it is a big BUT, no one can deny that these huge corporate cigarette producers have certainly learned the art of branding regardless of the lack of integrity they have shown in practicing their skills. It truly is important to remember that branding is a power so awesome, that it can only be used for good or evil.
Consequently, we at this magazine have been urging (not particularly subtly, even though we have many true friends in the MYO industry) that a significant improvement in image and thus brand name development need occur. For example, one of our favorite companies in this business and one we have an enormous amount of respect for is CTC (Clinton Tube Company), makers of many brands of tubes and the Supermatic and Excel injectors, to name just a few of their most known products. The name Supermatic sounds more to me like some kind of washing machine, vacuum cleaner or other utilitarian device than an elegantly designed product that could revolutionize (and is increasingly doing so) the way 50 million current packaged cigarette smokers use tobacco. Most of you know by now that MYO as defined as a philosophy for me involves moderation and the knowledge, care, and attention necessary to define one's specific tobacco preferences and subsequently make it into a cigarette. I think that future branding scenarios for products in this industry should be reflective of a passion for quality control, and the rather romantic (squishy word here, but in reality true nonetheless) notion of exotic tobaccos that are hand made into smokes by each user to be enjoyed as a luxurious pastime, and not as a requirement for existence. It is too late to change the names within the CTC line and their umbrella brand is actually Premier which is a very nice start but all future products from this and all existing and future companies really need to seriously consider upgrading the beauty and poetic value of the names of their products. The foregoing must be ameliorated with the warning that branding of tobacco products or smoking accessories must never be directed at the young. Smoking and the names associated with it need to remain in the kingdom of adults who have experiece with more classic visions of romantic, exotic times and places. The attempt was made for just such an ideal with the new Vera Cruz line of tubes and will one day with CTC's help, produce the Vera Cruz "Stick It In The Tube" injector. ( I Jest) There are many names that flow and remind one of things special and for this industry to prosper and garner a larger audience (away from packaged smoking) better names are an absolute must. Movement away from generic sounding products is moving away from the idea that make your own is simply for poor people (fiscally challenged). Value Brand, a tobacco we review in this issue, which has an outstanding Canadian Style offering, has a much too generic sounding product name considering its quality level. Its actual company name, The Phoenix Tobacco Company is much more appropriate in our opinion. Like GPC and Bonus Value cigarettes, the name Value Brand, implies a target audience consisting of those that can't afford Marlboros. This is much better tobacco than that. If quality, choice and moderation are the ultimate goals, and we feel strongly that they should be, making MYO products and philosophies more accessible and appetizing to the cigarette smoking population are certainly a necessity. (For a lot of reasons including improving the political image of tobacco in general and perhaps beginning to address the true nature of taxation as a means of social engineering not to mention a real overhaul of the medical research industry to re-point it in the direction of truth not profit.)
There, of course, are risks. As MYO becomes more well known, some will say it is just another way to encourage people to smoke. While patently untrue for now, the industry must be wise enough to never take that path regardless of the possible financial rewards. Smoking is self-indulgent, private behavior and, if conducted responsibly, in moderation and away from those who want no part of it, it MAY one day prove to be less of a health risk. We can only go by what we hear from our readers, personal acquaintances and our own personal observations. That is, that package cigarette smokers who convert to the MYO methodology tend to smoke less, appreciate the flavor of tobacco more, and eventually gain control to the point that tobacco is a freely chosen, occasional treat and often they eventually smoke so little that their one or two cigarettes a week are quite possibly of little consequence to their overall health. Providing that kind of alternative to the lifestyle of millions who may be damaging their health smoking pack after pack of manufactured cigarettes daily we feel can only be viewed as an improvement. Smoking tobacco or breathing in any kind of smoke or other particulate matter must certainly pose some health risk. Our aim is to find the truth as to dosage and degree of risk. However, since we are convinced that the MYO method has improved the lives of many already and that in order to attract more current smokers to an environment where quitting is far easier and moderation is a fact, better branding ideas must be realized.
The Challenge - The Contest - Win a Premier Supermatic!!!
OK, so now it is time to put up or shut up. If you have ideas about names for products, we would love to hear from you. Obviously, we can think of a lot of names ourselves but each of you out there no doubt has unique insight as to that which attracts you and we would appreciate any input you may have. Just to make it interesting, what we propose is that our readers who wish to participate, submit by email, two (2) appropriate and catchy brand names for each of the following categories. That is six names in all and only one entry of two names per category is allowed per email address. For questions or to submit your entry, email us at email@example.com.
The categories are two names for each:
Take your time and think of really interesting, memorable or exotic names. We are looking for names that really stand out. All entrees will be judged as to their branding value and must not be existing brands or infringe on existing brand names or other intellectual property rights. One winner in each category will be chosen. Our decision will be final and the final decision will entail consideration of, and research for, conflicts regarding existing brands or trademarks. Entries will become the sole property of RYO Magazine and may be trademarked at some time in the future by RYO Magazine or others. All entries must be received by December 20, 2002. The Winning Entries (one in each category above) will be posted in the Buyer's Guide on December 31, 2002 and the author will be notified by email immediately after posting. Each winner (Total of 3) will each receive a new, top of the line, Premier Supermatic Injector. We can't think of a better prize for the MYO enthusiast! Age verification of winners, of course, will be a must.
As we have a world-wide audience, restrictions on shipping to winning entries are as follows:
This contest is offered solely under the direction, and at the discretion, of RYO Magazine and is not affiliated with any other company or manufacturer. Remember this contest is ONLY open to those persons twenty-one (21) years of age or older. Proof of age will be required before prizes are shipped. In the event that identical winning names are submitted, those with the earliest date of receipt will take precedent. The personal information posted identifying winners will be limited to their name and general location and all other data regarding them will be protected. We respect the privacy of all of our readers.
For questions, or to submit your entry, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, one set of six names, two for each category constitutes an entry and only one entry is allowed per email address.
Have some fun with this one. Until next time - Doug
Check out the links below and keep abreast what is happening in the tobacco wars. It directly effects you and your right to smoke and other endangered freedoms more and more every day. - the ed.
1. http://www.smokersalliance.org - The National Smokers Alliance
2. http://www.forces.org - FORCES - A national smoker's rights organization
3. http://www.smokers.org - The American Smoker's Alliance
4. http://www.fujipub.com/fot - Friends of Tobacco - A Tobacco and Smoking information clearing house
5. http://www.junkscience.com - A highly entertaining site exposing fraudulent and expensive scientific extrapolations.
6. http://thomas.loc.gov - Current, past, and pending legislative actions, bills, and sponsors - a huge resource.
7. http://tobaccolovers.com - A new and growing resource for tobacco related, history, techniques, and links.
8. http://www.smokerscorner.al.ru - A new Eastern European site with a variety of informational sections & services
9. http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-366es.html - a "White" Paper produced by the CATO Institute covering the Shelby Amendment which requires that all aspects of research whose findings lead to legislation being enacted be made part of the public record available to all. Fascinating reading.
Also, most of the news services (CNN, Fox, ABC, MSNBC, etc.), have extensive archives of smoking related articles both pro and con. They are great resources for both sides of the issue. Their websites are easily found in search engines or by URL (i.e. cnn.com).
Without a doubt, even though we are being redundant, we strongly suggest you read what should be the handbook for the smoker's rights enthusiast, Don Oakley's "Slow Burn" - an incredibly well researched, powerful history of the facts and fallacies (mostly) of the anti-smoking movement from its organized inception in the early 60's to present - is available at Amazon.com (click the book graphic at right to purchase it immediately online from Amazon.com (highly recommended). This book is filled with detailed accounts of the step-by-step conspiracy that has created the anti-tobacco environment we all suffer today as well as many portents of the dangers of attorney driven campaigns to change the ways our basic rights are defined. It's all about money and it will make you angry . . . AND. . . you will be amazed at how much wool has been pulled over the eyes of the American sheep population and the enormous cost of the sheering.
Below are some
additional links to sites with some in-depth information on the colorful
1. Jim Shaw's Burnt
|EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we subscribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
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