Sunday, 29 July 2012

Even More General Arthur Cigars ...

I promise you, noble readers, that this will positively be the very last time I will mention those annoying General Arthur cigars, unless of course, an overwhelming response to the contrary forces my hand. But, anyway, since I have allowed myself one more drag, I'd just like to say this:

As my noble readers will by now recognize, one field of human endeavor that I like to keep half an eye on is advertising. Now, General Arthur cigars vanished sometime during World War One, and it's always interesting when a brand fails, because there has to be a reason for it.

One obvious reason is the rise of the cigarette. But that only explains the decline of cigar smoking in general (if you'll excuse the pun,) and not the demise of our favorite brand in particular. I would like you to look at things from the point of view of Jacob Wertheim of 174 West Fifty-eighth St. New York, New York: the civil war was over and one of its victorious generals was General Arthur. (Actually, Chester A. Arthur didn't do any fighting. Being a lawyer, he was given the rank of brigadier-general and given the task of raising and equipping troops for the N.Y. quota.) After the war he returned to doing what lawyers do best: opening other people's wallets and using the contents to run for political office. Doubtless he thought that, as a political candidate, it would not do a man any harm to have his picture distributed around the nation on millions of boxes of cigars. It was, after all, the closest thing to television they had in those days, and if that didn't help get Arthur to the vice-presidency, then I'll eat my treasured Stetson.

When, in 1881, that other civil war general, James A. Garfield, managed to get himself shot dead, Chester Arthur became president. Having built up a brand called "General Arthur", Jacob Wertheim could now hardly change it to "President Arthur," so they soldiered on (if you'll excuse a second pun) with the old name. The trouble with a brand like that is that thirty years down the line, and well into a new century, not only was the civil war ancient history, but so was Chester Arthur - Chester Who?

In today's terms it would be like the J. Walter Thompson Agency trying to push "Jimmy Carter" cigarettes. No offence to Jimmy (after all, he is family) but it's not exactly what you might call catchy.

Of course, if you have (through reading this blog) become an avid fan of the General Arthur cigar, you may read about them again by purchasing a copy of "Death Valley Scotty" my latest novel, exclusively and electronically available to all readers at their nearest Amazon, Barnes and Noble, &c., &c.

Hmmm ... what was I saying about the hard sell?

1 comment:

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