Brand: Silk Cut
Manufacturer: Gallaher Group Production
Campaign: Silk Cut Modern
Theme: Modern Strategies


Silk Cut Modern

In 1984, the Gallaher Group hired Charles Saatchi s ad agency to design an innovative ad campaign which would obey U.K. cigarette advertising restrictions while still promoting the Silk Cut product. The new ads, which circulated for over a decade, created a visual pun by utilizing purple silk in the ads, representing the royal purple silk ribbon which seals each Silk Cut cigarette box. (1). The ads flip around the product name and literally Cut through the purple Silk, often in a manner with sexual undertones. For example, the spout of a tin oil can penetrates a hole through a piece of silk, or a trio of open scissors slice through the fabric, the blades like the open legs of can-can dancers. Many of the ads have a surreal effect, and cause the viewer to pause and ponder over them. The viewer puzzles over the image, and when he figures out the joke, he feels rewarded directly correlating a positive feeling with the brand (2). The viewer also develops an association between the color purple and Silk Cut cigarettes, much like the association between red and Marlboro (3). The ads particularly allow Silk Cut to continue marketing its product in a brutal advertising environment which prohibits such classic methods as using attractive models. Some sources have indicated Silk Cut s behavior as a warning or lesson to other countries who may attempt restrictions on cigarette advertising in the future; The U.K. restrictions definitely triggered a burst of creativity that has produced a new genre of subtle, sophisticated ads and stimulated unconventional approaches to advertising (4).

Warner, F. Brandweek. 28 June 1993. Bates, A. 30 Jan 1997. Statement by Ronald Davis. 30 Sept 1997. Parker-Pope, T. 9 Oct 1996.

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