Marketing a tobacco product today is difficult. Social media is not always a viable option for every tobacco brand due to restrictions. There are also a lot of established brands in the tobacco industry that require very strategic marketing. However, savvy marketers like Republic Brands’ Paul Marobella see the opportunities to be had with taking recognizable brands and products to new audiences—as long marketers set out to do one very important thing.
Marobella has over 25 years of marketing experience that he’s bringing to Republic Brands, where he was recently announced as being the company’s new president and chief marketing officer. Having worked with brands like Jim Beam, Adidas, Dos Equis, Microsoft and Motorola, Marobella is now setting out to take Republic’s iconic stable of brands and help set them up for growth. But how will he make Republic’s products even more relevant to today’s consumers? It all comes down to understanding the core values of each brand and finding new and creative ways to relate the stories of Republic Brands and its products to its customers.
“When you look at our business, we have the tobacco side and we also have the RYO [roll-your-own] paper side of our business,” he says. “Republic owns some of the most iconic paper brands in the world: OCB, Job, E-Zwider, Abadi Paris, Joker. My job is to create brands people love, that people seek out, that people desire—and to find new ways to adapt our portfolio to the changing consumer tastes.”
Because part of Republic Brands’ portfolio is based in tobacco, the company is restricted in how and where it can market—a problem many tobacco companies face. Marobella sees this challenge as an opportunity to get to know the customer and brands even more. In his view, marketing leaders in the tobacco category are engaging with their customers in the right way—by learning all they can about them. This is done by designing loyalty and CRM programs but also through content creation.
Marketers, he explains, must find ways to continually communicate the personality and vision of the brands. This is accomplished with print advertising, which he still considers to be a very powerful platform for tobacco companies, though there may be fewer tobacco-friendly media outlets now than in previous years. It can also be done through storytelling and developing content that builds awareness. Even though content may have to be housed behind an age gate, businesses shouldn’t stop creating and publishing new content that helps customers get to know the company, the people behind it and its brands.
Two Important Considerations
Where do tobacco companies begin with their marketing plans today? First, you must figure out why your products are relevant to consumers today, something Marobella refers to as understanding the DNA of the brand.