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For Lorillard, the Best Defense is a Handful of Domain Names

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Who knew? Lorillard, maker of the popular menthol cigarette brand Newport, which accounts for 90 percent of its sales, is apparently pretty savvy about the Internets... for an old-line cigarette manufacturer. (The company is America's oldest tobacco company).

This savvy surely explains why the company wasted no time snapping up the domain names, and while battling the Food and Drug Administration over the safety of menthol cigarettes.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the battle heats up next week when a special FDA committee reviews data related to menthol tobacco products. The panel is scheduled to make a determination in March.

Of course, Lorillard was well-ahead of the curve on this according to the Journal.

Lorillard's domain-buying binge began last February, a few weeks before the FDA committee first convened. On Feb. 24, Lorillard registered about 50 variations of the term "menthol," including the dot-com, dot-net and dot-org versions of KillerMenthol, BanMenthol and MentholKills.

The domain registrations are disturbing to William S. Robinson, executive director of the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network in Durham, N.C. It "makes me mad that they would declare war in a quiet way on those who are trying to protect the public health," he says.

Critics have long claimed that menthol cigarette manufacturers target minorities above and beyond other smokers and, further, that the cigarettes are more harmful than regular cigarettes. I remember being very concerned about crystallizing my lungs" with menthol cigarettes back in my early smoking days, and that was in the 80s. Is it true? Can we really say Lorillard's Newport brand target minorities, particularly African Americans?

Sure, some of their ads do feature African Ameri...

...cans. Yeah, like that one. But look, that's from 1970 and...

Okay, well, maybe that's from the 1980s, but still...

Hey! It looks like that dude from the 70s ad might have scored!

Oh no, speaking of scoring...

Wow. I mean, I guess the good thing is that the guy can smoke a pack of Newports and still play basketball... on ice? In the world of Lorillard do all black people carry around basketballs in the snow?

And then this...

I'd like to have been in the creative presentation meeting with the ad agency and Lorillard execs when this ad was approved: "See, the message here is universal and aspirational: When you smoke Newport, you become like tiny black people who, between smokes, like to frolic with a giant football." LOL! Okay, Lorillard. Good one!

Of course, to be fair, not all Newport ads target minorities. This one apparently targets the highly-coveted rugged seafaring captain from Gloucester, MA demographic.

The only problem with this demographic is they tend to perish while fishing for swordfish in unusually intense storm conditions in the Atlantic.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.