Overheard in a meeting: "Cigarette smokers are the last great counter culture." I am not so sure about "last." Still, the world has changed. Harley Owners are now a customer retention program versus a badge of outlaw honor. Rock and roll has long since been main-streamed by the Live Nations of the world.
Cigarette smoking is counter culture, no doubt. And that's what makes the business ripe for programs that reward the fan (existing adult smoker). There are so many marketing restrictions in the business, it makes the pharmaceutical industry look like just another consumer packaged good. They need new ways to stay true to those restrictions (don't market to new smokers - especially youth).
I don't smoke. I did once. I do not want my children to smoke. And I am not advocating smoking. But, ever since the industry put those intense warning messages on the packs, it seems more like matter of personal responsibility. So what's the Idea?
The Haze Club
You know the glassed-in room with little more than hard plastic, bus station seating and a haze of cigarette smoke that are the "designated smoking room" in airport terminals? They remind me of the smoking room at highschool which was a dark room with hard wooden benches and a perpetual stench. They wanted us to hate it. We didn't.
Why aren't there Admiral Club-like smoking lounges sponsored by a tobacco company eager to win wallet-share from the already smoking-committed?
Members-only, the Haze Club (no need to pretend it's anything but proud of the smoke) would exist behind mysterious, wood-paneled doors. Inside, leather arm chairs and Vitamin Water for everyone. It would feel like a club - a little exclusive, a little plush. Only 18-and-over existing smokers could join.
Online a members-only web site would let you find the unlabled locations of the Haze Club in airports and select southern cities across the country. You could even connect it with your Dopplr application to let them know when you would be passing through and if you had any special brand needs.
If smoking is counter-culture, it's time they started celebrating that and overhauled their own image.