The KOOL brand of cigarettes is the second most popular mentholated cigarettes brand in the US, behind Newport. Although often criticized for vigorously trying to attract more African American smokers through forceful marketing and advertising, the fact remains that mentholated cigarettes are clearly preferred by African Americans, since according to some surveys 80% of this group prefer to smoke a menthol flavored cigarette, while only 20% opt for normal flavored smokes.
The Kool brand is a product of the tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, who launched this brand back in 1933, originally marketing it as an non-filtered, short-sized cigarette. In response to the changing market conditions and the varying demands of smokers, the Kool brand turned into a filtered, king size brand as filters gained popularity in the 1960s, while later on its brand family grew and expanded further in order to include a milder variant, featuring a less intense menthol flavour, a lighter variant, containing less tar and nicotine and a more slender and longer 100’s variant.
The promotion and advertising of the Kool brand was always geared towards targeting primarily the more sophisticated segment of the male smokers. As a result, the brand’s original mascot, a penguin named Willie, was portrayed in ads as being a successful professional, such as a doctor, a soldier and a chef. The more recent advertising efforts of the brand drew heavily on the link between its mint flavor and nature and the outdoors, creating connotations between the cool taste of menthol and cool outdoor scenes and activities centering around water and snow, as well as sports references.
The flavor of Kool cigarettes has the same features as all mentholated cigarettes, where the menthol in a sense numbs the taste buds, allowing the inhalation experience to become less harsh, leaving an aftertaste that is somewhat blunt. However, the Kool brand stands out because, due to the 100% natural menthol used in their production, the resulting menthol taste and smell is exceptionally rich and bold. Nevertheless, due to the specially blended tobacco and the balance that is achieved the end taste is still smooth and pleasant, as well as zesty and fresh. Exactly this fusion and harmonious combination of tobacco and menthol is symbolized vividly by the two interlocking “O’s” in the Kool logo, which have always steadily featured on the brand’s packaging, despite other aesthetic changes that had taken place on the design of the packs over the years.