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Brand Vantage

For the second year running, RJR-Macdonald is using women celebrities to push its second-leading brand, Vantage cigarettes.

The first Vantage Women of Originality Awards were presented to four Canadian women on May 7, 1998. A second round is set for June 1999.

The 1998 winners were: singer-songwriter Jann Arden, fashion entertainer Jeanne Beker, figure skating choreographer Sandra Bezic and comedian Mary Walsh.

In return for accepting these awards, the award-winning women receive a profile in a major women's magazine, and a donation of $5,000 to a woman's charity of their choice. Other benefits are not disclosed.

The benefits to the tobacco company are more obvious. This promotion is a way for Vantage to escape restrictions on tobacco advertising, including restrictions on celebrity endorsements.

This year's advertisements are accompanied by a response form, which asks readers for their opinions on what originality means to them. It invites respondents to answer 'yes' or 'no' to statements like "I have a way about me that is all my own," or "I think of myself as being a creative person" and to mail the results to RJR's marketing division, along with information about their age and income. -- Not surprisingly, names and addresses are also collected.

With a new launch and new brands, RJR is re-profiling its Vantage cigarettes in the low-tar market for the second time in five years

The Vantage brand family has less than one half percentage share of the Canadian cigarette market, compared with RJR-'s leading Export A family (11% market share).

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