Regarding the "New" KOOL Penguin

Here we have a picture of the "new" KOOL penguin, proposed by Brown and Williamson in 1991.  Looks a little muscle bound doesn't he?  The following article, relating to efforts of the tobacco industry to entice young people to smoke, includes details regarding the possible resurrection of the KOOL penguin:

Addicting the Young: Tobacco Pushers and Kids *

by Karen Lewis

The success of Reynold's Camel campaign appears to have spawned other tobacco company cartoon advertising campaigns.  Brown & Williamson, a U.S. company owned by British American Tobacco (BAT), is testing a cartoon penguin to promote Kool brand cigarettes.  This cartoon character has buzz-cut hair, day-glo sneakers, sunglasses, and is very conscious of being "cool."  Brown & Williamson's announcement of the test campaign is written in the voice of the penguin, who explains, "My older cousin, Willie the Penguin, represented Kool for three decades.  Let's face it, he's gotten on in years. That, and the fact that I'm unique, colorful, good-looking - and very modest.  Some people think I'm a little irreverent.  (So what if I do have a little fun on the job?)  I will admit to being just a bit unconventional."

Brown & Williamson claims that the new ad campaign is an update of the Willie the Penguin cartoon that appeared in Kool ads from 1933 to 1960 and is designed to appeal to young adults, 21-35 years old.  Robert Fitzmaurice, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Brown & Williamson, reports that research "indicated it is very much an adult symbol."

The test ads play on the word "cool;" one ad shows four varieties of Kool cigarettes and the text, "Now, you got four chances to get Kool.  Don't blow it."  Although some industry analysts speculate Brown & Williamson's advertising spending for the Kool campaign will not be the same scale as Camel's, Brown & Williamson's press release indicates plans to provide the necessary support for the campaign: "Of course that takes big bucks, including all travel expenses (and when you're coming from Antarctica, that's not chicken feed!).  Of course I'm worth it."  In addition to billboards and print ads, the cartoon penguin will appear on promotional items.

Philip Morris has also introduced a cartoon promotional character, a stylized puffin logo for its Benson and Hedges brand in the United Kingdom.  The symbol resembles the bird used by the Puffin Books company, a children's books publisher.  Puffin Books asked the British Advertising Standards Authority to rule that Philip Morris's character is an infringement on its logo, but the agency rejected the complaint, asserting that the bird was "too surreal and too dissimilar from Puffin Books' logo" to confuse children.  The British Medical Association, among many others, denounced the finding, but Philip Morris is now free to use the puffin.

Yes, there is even such a thing as a new KOOL penguin collectible.  Here we see a 53-inch tall standee, copyright 1991.  The sign is reversible, one side reading "Meet me at the KOOL display," the other "Is this a KOOL store or what?"  The photo is courtesy of a collector in Reidsville, North Carolina.  Thanks, Bill.

*  The Article by Karen Lewis was found at the web site of  "Multinational Monitor", the January/February 1992 issue.  The Multinational Monitor is published monthly except bimonthly in January/February and July/August by Essential Information, Inc.  The Multinational Monitor tracks corporate activity, especially in the Third World, focusing on the export of hazardous substances, worker health and safety, labor union issues and the environment.  For more information on the Multinational Monitor, visit the web site, send e-mail to, or phone them at +1 (202) 387-8030.

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This page created and maintained by Jim Lowe
First appearance: August 22, 1997
Last updated: August 26, 1998

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