The Winston brand is an American cigarette originally manufactured by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1954. Hugely successful in the domestic US market, the Winston cigarettes made great leaps in their popularity and they managed to replace the Pall Mall brand as the number one top selling brand in the U.S. in 1966. It remained on the top selling position for 8 consecutive years, until 1972. Some say that the brand’s success was at least partly owed to their catchy advertising slogan: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” Although Winston has lost market share in recent years, according to national surveys conducted in the U.S. it still features comfortably on the list of the most popular cigarette brands, reportedly currently jointly holding the sixth place with menthol brand Kool, as regards their market value.
Interestingly enough the original popularity of the Winston brand in the US was also thanks to the decision of R.J. Reynolds to sponsor the first two seasons of the Flintstones, with Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble actually being used to promote the cigarette brand in 1960 and 1961, since during the commercial breaks of the show they were animated smoking cigarettes and talking to viewers about the Winston brand. This kind of sponsorship sounds very weird today, with the strict rules on tobacco advertising. In any case as the Flintstones became hugely popular with young children, R.J. Reynolds had to give its position as sponsor of the show to a fruit juice brand.
Following its success in the domestic US market, the Winston brand expanded abroad as well and in the 1980’s it managed to become the most popular cigarette in Puerto Rico. So huge was its popularity that it came to be regarded almost as a national brand, aided by the widespread use of the advertising slogan “Winston and Puerto Rico: There is nothing better.”
Originally, Winston cigarettes boasted about their unique feature of being additive free, although they did clarify, through a secondary warning on their packets, that being additive free did not make them safer for smokers. However, when in 2008 the manufacturer decided to make changes to the packaging of the brand, the additive free label was also removed from the Winston pack. Moreover, following its decision to stop manufacturing the soft pack variety of Winston, the company changed the design of the hard box, which in fact can be seen as bridging the gap between a hard pack and a soft pack. This is achieved through removing the top of the box, which is in fact a perforated flip top.