linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!
Also of interest
 

Zippo


  Zippo
Reinventing an Old Flame
by Barry Silverstein
May 20, 2011

Imagine if the product your company produced revolved around a global social custom that was in precipitous decline because of government regulation and health concerns. That pretty much describes the challenge of Zippo, manufacturer of the renowned Zippo lighter, whose fate has been inextricably tied to smoking.
 
 

When George Blaisdell invented the Zippo lighter in 1932 in an effort to craft a more streamlined functional American lighter than its Austrian counterpart, smoking was widely accepted. Blaisdell coined the word “Zippo” simply because he liked the sound of it.

According to the Zippo Manufacturing Company, the lighter’s popularity soared during World War II, when Zippo stopped general manufacturing and produced lighters exclusively for the American military. What set the lighter apart was that the company promised to repair it free of charge – a lifetime guarantee, still in force today. The lighter was also commonly used as a promotional item, branded with a company’s logo and handed out to customers and prospects. Such lighters have become prized collector items today.

Zippo became an iconic American symbol of the suave, sophisticated celebrity. According to the company, the Zippo lighter is a mainstay of product placement. The Zippo lighter (and brand) has appeared in more than 1,500 movies, stage plays and television shows since its invention. In the 1960s, fans with hands raised, holding Zippo lighters, would salute concert performers in what became known as a “Zippo moment.”

In recent years, of course, smoking has been frowned upon, leaving Zippo with a significant drop in demand, particularly in the U.S. market. Even so, in 2010, lighters made up more than half of the company’s revenues, with demand in China and Japan remaining strong.

But for over a decade, the company with some two-thirds market share in refillable lighters has been scrambling to remain relevant. Simply put, the company’s most powerful attribute – the strength of its legendary brand name – is responsible for the survival of Zippo.

It was in 2001, according to a 2004 case study in Inc. magazine, that Zippo “officially abandoned the strategic mindset of a one-product manufacturing business and entered the 21st century world of brand management.” That’s when the company began to extend its brand, producing such items as the Zippo Multi-Purpose Lighter and looking at licensing its name for use on non-lighter products. In a nod to those illuminated concerts, the company even started a “Zippo Hot Tour” to recognize up and coming rock bands. These days, the tour has morphed into Zippo’s partnership with Live Nation, sponsoring a “Zippo Tent” and “Zippo Hot Seats Sweepstakes” at rock concerts.

That was just the beginning of putting a little zip into the Zippo brand. Today, the Zippo name adorns over twenty kinds of “windproof” lighters, as well as candle lighters, fire starters, hand warmers, and outdoor utility lighters. But there’s more to the story. Zippo also makes lighter cases, including a special “air case” to stow the lighter in luggage checked for air travel, as well as Zippo-branded pens and watches. The watches carry an embossed logo crown and a mirrored case back with an etched Zippo logo and flame.

Moving even further away from the smoking arena, Zippo last year introduced “Zippo Fragrances,” a division whose first product, a cologne for men called “Zippo Original,” is packaged in a container that resembles – what else – a Zippo lighter that “opens and closes with the famous Zippo click.” The Zippo Fragrances line also includes more conventionally packaged men’s body and hair wash, after shave balm, and deodorant spray.

Zippo Fragrances was launched first in Europe because, interestingly, Zippo has more of a fashionable cachet there. The reason is that, seven years ago, Zippo acquired a maker of women’s leather handbags in Italy, as part of a settlement related to a dispute over using the company’s brand name on the bags, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Ultimately, fashion and retail may be what saves Zippo from the brand scrap heap. In January 2011, Zippo started experimenting with its own travel-retail and duty-free stores that will appear primarily in airports. In February, the company brought a casual clothing line to market. Licensed by a Hong Kong company, Zippo caps, jeans, and additional clothing items will be available through Urban Outfitters and other retailers.

Wherever Zippo ends up, though, there will likely continue to be a huge collectors market for Zippo lighters. The company knows it too – Zippo maintains a popular museum at its Bradford, Pennsylvania headquarters and holds annual get-togethers for collectors in the U.S. and Japan. One way or the other, it looks like Zippo intends to keep the fire burning.

 
     
  

Barry Silverstein has been a frequent brandchannel contributor since 2007. He has thirty years of advertising and marketing experience and is currently a freelance writer and marketing consultant. He founded and ran his own direct marketing agency and held executive positions with Epsilon, a leading database marketing firm and Arnold, a major ad agency. Silverstein is the author of three marketing books, including the McGraw-Hill book, The Breakaway Brand, which he co-authored with Arnold CEO Fran Kelly.

  
 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 7 )  email

Zippo - Reinventing an Old Flame
 
 Hi Barry,Great minds thinking and blogging alike... http://www.stargroup1.com/blog/case-emergency-break-glass-and-rebrand 
steve olenski, Creative Director/Digital Services, The Star Group - May 24, 2011
 
  brandchannel profile archive   2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  |  2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002  |  2001
 
 
Nov 4, 2011 BP - Back in Business -- Sheila Shayon
  BP looks to its people, and the 2012 Olympics, to clean up its reputation
   
 
Oct 21, 2011 Beer Brands - Feeling a Draught -- Renée Alexander
  The days of holding up two fingers to your bartender and getting a couple of glasses filled with generic beer from a tap are long gone.
   
 
Oct 7, 2011 Marimekko - New York Chic at Sixty -- Barry Silverstein
  Celebrating the Marimekko brand as its New York flagship opens
   
 
Sep 23, 2011 Red Bull - High Energy Extreme Branding -- Sheila Shayon
  How Red Bull reinvented sports marketing by creating properties unique to its brand.
   
 
Sep 9, 2011 Walgreens - Healthy Profits from Keeping Customers Healthy -- Barry Silverstein
  Walgreens thrives in tough times through access and innovation.
   
 
Aug 5, 2011 High West - The New Spirit of Utah -- Jennifer Sokolowsky
  Why High West’s ryes have been garnering accolades in the whiskey world
   
 
Jul 22, 2011 NE-TIGER - Clawing Its Way Through China’s Luxury Ranks -- Barry Silverstein
  A deeper look into the Chinese luxury brand NE-TIGER.
   
 
Jul 14, 2011 The Balvenie - Modern Marketing with a Handcrafted Finish -- Jennifer Sokolowsky
  A profile of the The Balvenie Brand
   
 
Jul 8, 2011 For Dummies - Still Smart at 20 -- Sheila Shayon
  A profile of the For Dummies brand.
   
 
Jul 1, 2011 Fango - Making Mud Matter -- Barry Silverstein
  A profile of the Borghese brand Fango.
   
 
Jun 17, 2011 Embraer - Brazilian High Flyer -- Barry Silverstein
  A closer look into the Embraer brand of aircraft.
   
 
Jun 10, 2011 Dream Water - The Anti-Energy Drink -- Sheila Shayon
  Dream Water helps Paris Hilton, Sofia Vergara and other insomniacs get to sleep
   
 
May 5, 2011 SKECHERS - Running Away from the Competition -- Barry Silverstein
  A breakdown of the Skechers brand
   
 
Apr 29, 2011 EyeBuyDirect - Framing the Future -- Sheila Shayon
  EyeBuyDirect uses community, virtual technology and digital touchpoints to engage eyeglass shoppers.
   
 
Apr 15, 2011 Peeps - Sweet Sign of Spring -- Jennifer Sokolowsky
  The brand Peeps is profiled.
   
 
Apr 1, 2011 G.J. Andrews - Rebranding the Family Business -- Renée Alexander
  An upscale retailer in Winnipeg, Canada, rebrands its family-run brand.
   
 
Mar 18, 2011 National Geographic - From Magazine to Media Phenom -- Barry Silverstein
  How National Geographic continues exploring new frontiers
   
 
Mar 11, 2011 CÎROC - A Vodka With Street Cred -- Barry Silverstein
  Three years after Ciroc teams with Sean Combs, Diddy make a difference?
   
 
Mar 4, 2011 Juan Valdez - Serving It Up for 50 Years -- Barry Silverstein
  Juan Valdez is a timeless brand mascot. How has he endured?
   
 
Feb 25, 2011 Nestlé - Between Food and Pharma -- Jennifer Sokolowsky
  Nestlé develops food that doesn’t just taste good, but is good for you.
   
 
Feb 18, 2011 Kidfresh - Petite Cuisine -- Barry Silverstein
  Frozen kids meals to make healthy eating cool.
   
 
Feb 11, 2011 Berry+ - A Berry Unique Proposition -- Jennifer Sokolowsky
  Berry+ launches with an on-campus eco campaign.
   
 
Feb 4, 2011 Lucky Brand - Back to Bohemia -- Jennifer Sokolowsky
  Lucky Brand goes back to bohemian roots with new collaboration with John Robshaw.
   
 
Jan 28, 2011 Alpo - Appealing to Real Dogs -- Barry Silverstein
  An interesting read on good tasting dog food.
   
 
Jan 21, 2011 Goodwill - A Nonprofit that’s in Fashion -- Barry Silverstein
  How a non-profit brand embraces the 21st Century.
   
 
Jan 14, 2011 Southwest Airlines - Rapidly Rewarding -- Jennifer Sokolowsky
  Southwest goes after the more lucrative business travel segment with changes to its frequent-flier program.