Big Tobacco’s Still Puffing

It was 2004, and Brown & Williamson’s marketing department had a runaway hit on its hands. For six years, the tobacco brand had been hosting battle-of-the-DJ events at nightclubs in major cities, and B&W was about to go even bigger. That year’s turntable battle, called the Kool Mixx, would be a 14-city tour. Limited-edition packs of cigarettes, adorned with splashy renderings of hip-hop artists and gyrating dancers, were sold nationally at retail. Field teams distributed “Soundtrack to the Streets” CDs and CD-ROMs, and the hosted mixing software and an online DJ competition. B&W had plugged into the downtown vibe in a way that most brands only dream of, and the house was on fire.