A product of the Gallagher Tobacco Group, the Silk Cut cigarette brand is mostly known because of its lower tar content. Characterized by its elegant, stark and stylish emblematic white pack, featuring the brand name in a square in different colours, such as purple, red, blue, white and silver, each signifying a different type and potency, the Silk Cut cigarettes stand out from the rest mostly due to the fact that their filling is made up of tobacco only by 75%, with the rest being a cellulose-based tobacco substitute, known as Cytrel. This feature has fuelled the misconception that the tobacco in Silk Cuts contains less nicotine than other cigarette tobacco, which is not true. However, Silk Cuts can generally said to be a lower nicotine level brand thanks to the special design of their filter, which has many more holes than regular strength cigarette filters, resulting in the mixing of smoke with pure air.
In the 1970s and 1980s, when consumers began seeking “healthier” smoking options as the dangers of smoking to health were becoming more evident and profound, the Silk Cut brand gained huge popularity from those deciding to switch to a lower tar brand. Indeed with a content of only 5 mg tar, a regular Silk Cut cigarette did contain less than half the tar content of other competitive and popular brands such as Marlboro, Camel and Benson & Hedges.
The brands popularity was also aided by cleverly designed and implemented advertising campaigns over the years, such as the one designed in 1984 by Saatchi & Saatchi, which depicted a pair of scissors cutting through silk, in an indirect response to the newly imposed constraints on tobacco advertising. Moreover, the Silk Cut brand was actively involved in sports sponsorships, such as the rugby League’s Challenge Cup and the successful Jaguar XJR Sports Cars in prestigious competitions such as the Le Mans race.
The combination of these factors had led the Silk Cut to conquer the number one position as the best selling cigarette brand in the UK market. However, it lost the spot when its sales started declining due to the increased challenges posed by the ban on tobacco advertising since the 1990s, with the simultaneous rise in taxes imposed on the tobacco products and the emergence of numerous cheaper tobacco brands, that took away market share since they were more competitively priced.
The makers of Silk Cut tried to reverse the falling trend is sales through a series of moves to enhance the brand’s quality and image, such as introducing a new and better filtering system, as well as a revamped and more elegant packaging design. Moreover, they enriched their offering by introducing their slim cigarettes line of products to the UK market.
Besides the full flavoured version of the brand, the Silk Cut cigarettes family includes many other variants, in an active effort to remain ahead of the pack and be responsive to the changing market conditions and the varying demands of modern smokers. Therefore, Silk Cuts are also available in lower tar versions, as well as ultra lower tar versions, in a menthol variant for those preferring the mentholated flavour and in the super king size 100’s length of cigarettes.