Collection: Kool Modern
Recent Kool ads are clearly marketed toward a younger, urban demographic. Many of the ads feature models of a variety of ethnicities, and African Americans are particularly targeted. Kool’s advertisements from 2005 used the slogan “Be True,” which urged consumers “be true” to themselves and to “be true” and loyal to the brand. The “Be True” slogan was accompanied by variety of phrases such as “Be Passionate,” “Be Original,” “Be Smooth,” and “Be Bold,” all of which appeal to adolescents and young adults trying to “find themselves” and develop a sense of self. The “Be True” ads largely feature musicians, ranging from guitar players to disc jockeys, and their ethnicities are also noticeably diverse; Asians, African Americans, and Caucasians are all represented in the campaign. Other Kool campaigns from the 2000s, like “House of Menthol,” are more transparently urban-oriented, featuring boom boxes, speaker systems, microphones, graffiti, or skyscrapers. A subset of these ads features the “Kool Mixx” which claims to “celebrate the soundtrack to the streets” through limited edition cigarette packs. Urban youth were clearly a priority.
Kool utilized music in general (particularly jazz music in the 1980s and hip hop in the 2000s) as “an idea or symbol that was truly Pan-Racial… an idea that transcended the color of a smoker’s skin” (1). In a National Sales Meeting speech, a B&W exec explained their music-oriented approach as “not advertising for Blacks or Whites or Hispanics,” but rather as “advertising for everyone who likes music. And how many people do you know who don’t like music?” The exec goes on to explain, “Black smokers are very important to Kool, as you well know, and we could, like Salem, create a separate ad campaign to run in Black publications… with Black models only. But why should we? We don’t have to do that, we’re going to own the world of music, where the subject of Black and White don’t matter because the only real issue is one of pleasure. Musical enjoyment…linked to smoking satisfaction” (2).
1. Cunningham & Walsh Advertising Agency. “Kool: The Revitalization of an Image.” B&W. 1 July 1981. http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/leb91d00
2. Lewis, LR. “Speech for National Sales Meeting.” B&W. Oct 1981. http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/crj40f00