Friday, December 26, 2008

The Famous “Wise Buys” Story

By Humberto Gonzalez

It all started one day in July when I was getting re-acquainted with the Famous Smoke Shop modus operandi after a long "hiatus," for lack of a better term. I was flipping through the pages of the Famous cigar catalog when I realized it hadn't changed very much since the last time I occupied an office here. I stared at the wall and pondered what could be done to make the catalog, and my existence, more useful. I also needed to justify the humongous salary with stock options, benefits, and company car I was granted when Arthur begged me to come back. After skimming back and forth through the Famous pages eight or nine times, I had an epiphany that hit me like a ton of bricks.

Famous Smoke Shop owns a boatload of private labels, all of which are made by some key people in this wild and wonderful cigar business. Along with those private labels, we also sell branded products we don't make any money on because every Tom, Dick and Harry cigar store, clambering for that oh so precious consumer, keeps driving the price down to ridiculously unattractive margins. I mean, who can stay in business on such meager profits?

I said to myself "I can make a difference. I can turn the tide on all this and get out of the rat race by helping Famous sell cigars the other guys don't have!" Yes. I had a plan. But how? How do I get someone to try our products when seasoned cigar smokers mostly smoke something with a name? How can I get a self-respecting cigar smoker to savor the Cameroon goodness from our newly acquired CAO CX2 cigars selection? What need I do to get the average Joe cigar smoker to light up a Conuco without the subliminal reminder to fill the gas tank? In what way will I unveil the secret behind the newly introduced La Floridita Limited Edition? In short, what do I have to do to put our cigars in their mouths? Hmmm. . ."I'VE GOT IT!!" I yelled. "I'll pair up our cigars with some of those hoity toity 'name brands' at virtually little or no extra cost!!" I was so proud of myself I had to announce it to the world. I leapt off my cardboard box (shaped to resemble the leather reclining massage office chair I requested), and pranced through the hallways, singing four octaves above my normal range of tone-deafness, reciting my latest stroke of brilliance. People looked excited, even as they covered their ears to the painful shrieks of my vocal chords. But a short phrase from somewhere off in the distance quickly silenced my enthusiasm. . ."What are you going to call it?". . .(sigh).

I returned to my desk, dejected and emasculated, trying to regain my composure, held back the tears and went back to the beginning. Near desperation, I opened up Microsoft Outlook® and, hailing every Famous employee in the system, asked them to come up with a name. Something catchy, unique, simple, sexy. . .After 3 hours and 473 crappy suggestions, my inbox lit up with the name to end all names; the Mona Lisa of cigar-related marketing. . ."Wise Buys," submitted by one of our employees who works from her home in Texas. (A chord sung by an angelic choir rises in unison - AAAAHH!) I loved it, the company loved it. We found our niche. With that, I sat down and brainstormed with Hayward, one of our copywriters extraordinaire, who has proved to be as masterful with paper and pen as he is with a knife and fork.

We sat in the same room for what seemed like days. Ordered Chinese food and ate out of the containers with chop sticks, like in the movies. Had a big fight, made-up, and discovered what had been right under our collective noses the entire eight minutes we were together. In concert we chanted "Let's give this thing a mob theme!" We looked up every possible reference to mob and wise guy culture we could find and realized we would never run out of possibilities while utterly enjoying every cigar and every last bit of prose we wrote to entertain and supply our loyal public.

Gentlemen (and ladies), we offer you the Famous Wise Buys - Branded products (Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, Macanudo, Rocky Patel, etc.) paired with our very own private label cigars (CX2, La Campina, Conuco, etc.) Manufactured by "made men," at reasonable "try me now" prices, we've even gone so far as to inform our audience about an interesting and deadly underworld. Enjoy our offahs. . .You simply can't refuse them. . .And don't worry about buying too many. . .we'll simply make more.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

are you really sure you were the first with the wise guy 'type' of comparison of cigars ?

didnt those waste of space people over at the online cigar business that isnt at all international - as they refuse to sell to smokers outside of the US - have similar methods of comparing two brands in fight mode a couple of years back ?

Whatever, being a Brit I prefer Famous every day.

Good Luck for 2009

Cigar Advisor said...

I never said we were the first. The Famous Wise Buys are a similar approach with a much different twist to what some of our competitors have done. Instead of just catchy names, we have an actual storyline.

The fact that we ship across the pond is a bonus.

Thanks for your business.

Humberto