“I didn’t know that, but sticking it to the man makes this all the more sweet,” said Jerome Hicks, taking a long drag on a Dunhill cigarette. “I can say without guilt, if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.” — quoted by Charles Sheehan in the Trib, 19 January
The greedy zillionaires running multinational giant Reynolds American have apparently decided that harvesting $15.6 billion a year by slowly strangling millions of people to death isn’t enough. No, they’ve discovered a new twist on insidious evil: they’ve “gone local,” crouching behind a made-up brand name — Marshall & McGearty, who in real life are a corporate chemist and an ad-man, respectively — to create a corporate simulacrum of the idealized Ye Olde Tyme Corner-e Tobacconist-e Shoppe, hawking “custom blended” cancer sticks for $8 a pack.
“Reynolds, a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., plans to test the idea and see how the brand does before potentially expanding the concept.” (AP/N&O)
And where is the test market for this cynical marketing ploy, the first place where gullible and stupid American consumers will be suckered into literally trading their lives for corporate marketing hoo-hah? Why, Wicker Park, of course. And in a fit of good timing, the lounge coincidentally opened just as the deal-with-it-later smoking ban passed the City Council, resulting in a shower of free publicity.
Bleaugh. Good thing that the many local demolitions have left behind big piles of spare bricks. C’mon, let’s welcome them like we welcomed Starbucks — a corporation, mind you, a third smaller than RJR (measured by annual revenues).
And oh, it turns out that RJR’s largest shareholder is British American Tobacco. Together, RJR and BAT (which merged their American operations in 2005) sold $70 billion in cigarettes in 2004, making BAT bigger than McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Nike, and the Gap combined.