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June/July
1999

RETAILER & TOBACCO INDUSTRY NEWS (cont.)

Aristoff Launches Incentive Program for Tobacco Shops
Beverly Hills, CA - Aristoff has launched a revolutionary incentive program for cigar retailers. Known as “Rewards de Grande Classe,” it eclipses any previous incentive program in the industry.

Unlike others that offer hats, key chains, or polo shirts, Aristoff offers tobacconists valuable items, including $1,000 Gucci watches, 1949 Montecristo pre-Castro cigars, gold and silver cutters and lighters, jewelry, and perfume. The coup de grace is a luxury weekend in Beverly Hills, escorted around in Aristoff’s $380,000 Bentley Azure convertible.

For a limited time, Aristoff is offering double points for purchases, and 1,000 points for referrals to other tobacconists. Aristoff reports that the response to the program has been phenomenal, and expects to extend the program beyond its original June deadline.
CigarAmerica, Tel: (818) 848-5555.

Cigar Funds Aid for Hurricane Orphans
Danlí, Honduras - Tabacos Rancho Jamastran has joined forces with Internet discussion group alt.smokers.cigars to launch the CigarAid.org Web site and produce Esperanza para los Ninos cigars, the name meaning “Hope for the Children.” Priced at about $75 per box, the cigars’ proceeds go to educating Honduran orphans. The sale of one box will educate a Honduran child for one year.

Manufacturer of Saint Luis Rey and Baccarat, Tabacos Rancho Jamastran came up with the idea after Hurricane Mitch ripped through Honduras and left large numbers of children orphaned. The Esperanza cigar, a medium- to full-bodied maduro, is only available through the Internet site www.CigarAid.org.

“Our goal is to support as many orphans as we can all the way through elementary, middle, and high school, and on into college,” asserted company spokesman Christian Eioroa.

NY Times Bans Tobacco Ads
The so-called “Gray Lady” is growing cranky in her old age, as the venerable New York Times has announced it will no longer run advertisements for cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco in its pages. Tobacco retail stores and cigar magazines, however, are still permitted to advertise in the Times.

“We don’t want to expose our readers to advertising that may be dangerous to their health,” commented Times spokesperson Nancy Nielsen to the Associated Press.

The Times, which does not accept ads for handguns or tear gas, pulled in $1 billion in ad revenue last year, and Nielsen added that tobacco advertising comprised “far less than 1%” of that.


Fuente Feted by Robb Report
New York - Carlos Fuente Jr. was in New York recently, a guest of honor at the Robb Report “Best of the Best” awards dinner, held at Manhattan’s grand Palace Hotel. A magazine celebrating the luxury lifestyle, the Robb Report named the Arturo Fuente Hemingway its number one cigar, followed by Montecristo No. 2 (Cuba), Ashton Cabinet, Padron Anniversary, and Davidoff Double R. “The earthy, robust, and elegant Fuente Hemingway continues to epitomize the finest skill of the best torcedors,” states the Robb Report in its June issue.

“We definitely felt that this was a tremendous honor,” commented a trimmed down Carlos Fuente Jr., who compared the feeling to when his family won “People of the Year” honors in Tobacco International. “It’s always rewarding when you do something from the bottom of your heart, and to find that people appreciate your efforts.”

Last year, it was Fuente’s Hemingway Classic that took top prize. Concerning the possibility of a three-peat in 2000, Carlos Jr. said, “We have a great responsibility to continue to improve our product, and we’ll just continue to do what we do.”

Elie Bleu won in the humidor category, while Alfred Dunhill took top prize among pipes, followed by Butz-Choquin, Peterson, Don Carlos, and Erik Nørding.


Tabacalera Taps Yahoo! for Romeo y Julieta 1875 Giveaway
Aggressive Father’s Day Promo Courts Adult Web Surfers


New York - Tabacalera Cigars International (U.S.A.), Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Tabacalera, S.A., partnered with Yahoo! in a Father’s Day promotion that steered customers into local tobacco shops.

Visitors to Yahoo!'s site at www.store.yahoo.com/tabacalera had a chance to win an all-expense paid trip for two to one of golf's most prestigious events, the Ryder Cup. In addition, Tabacalera offered every U.S. resident over 18 years old who entered the contest a coupon for a free Romeo y Julieta 1875 cigar from local participating retailers.

Through the alliance, Tabacalera was featured in a five million impression banner ad campaign on Yahoo!’s site for a two week period. Entrants received a uniquely numbered coupon in the mail, and along with a map of up to nine participating retailers within 20 miles.

“Just having a Web site presence is not what it is all about. We feel like there are lots of online opportunities out there. By participating with Yahoo!, we will better support our retailers in serving our customers,” explained Donald C. Young III, Tabacalera Cigars International.

“What we are trying to do is give both our customers and our retailers an extra value in this offer,” he continued. “Through the five million impressions on Yahoo!, we want to put our cigars in the hands of people aged 18 and over to let them see why Tabacalera is one of the world's leading cigar manufacturers.”


PRODUCTION / DISTRIBUTION NOTES

Fire Destroys Aging Room Stash at La Flor Dominicana
In May, a fire attributed to an electrical surge destroyed nearly half a million La Flor Dominicana cigars aging in a factory storage room. Litto Gomez, owner of La Flor Dominicana, said that once inventory at its Miami distribution center is depleted, retailers will begin to see shortages across the entire line of products. The factory will operate at full capacity in an effort to replace the lost inventory, the company said.

Antillian Inks Distribution Agreement with Holt’s Cigar
Ashton Distributors, Inc., a subsidiary of Holt’s Cigar Holding, Inc., and worldwide distributors of Ashton cigars, will provide exclusive sales of Sosa, Sosa Family Selection, and Imperio Cubano to retail tobacco stores nationwide through Ashton’s national sales force. Sosa and Sosa Family Selection cigars are manufactured by Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia in the Dominican Republic, overseen by cigar blender Juan Sosa.

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Expands Production
Santa Fe Natural Tobacco’s second manufacturing facility in Oxford, N.C. was dedicated in June. The new primary processing tobacco facility will process and blend tobaccos for the company’s Natural American Spirit cigarettes and pouch tobaccos.



SMOKESHOP - June/July 99