“Well, that’s different.”
That was my first thought upon the unveiling of Davidoff Winston Churchill, and I imagine similar sentiments were echoed in the company’s board room when the re-branded line was first shown internally. It is the latest in a series of bold moves from Davidoff, the others being Davidoff Nicaragua, the $500 Oro Blanco, and the company’s own concierge service, to name a few.
A year ago, Winston Churchill—the brand—was dead in the water, and the company had to do something with the line. The solution is a marriage between two classics, Davidoff and Sir Winston Churchill. The result is a complex, multi-origin blend of seven tobaccos, an all-new band, and branding that not only shows new sides to Sir Winston Churchill, but to Davidoff as well.
We spoke to Charles Awad, Oettinger-Davidoff AG’s svp of global marketing and innovation—the man behind re-branding Winston Churchill, as well as some of the more recent transformations to Davidoff’s portfolio—to get a better idea of how Davidoff went about reinvigorating the Winston Churchill brand.
Reklame: At what point did Davidoff decide a re-branding was necessary?
Charles Awad: The decision was taken a year ago. After reviewing the situation — from blend to communication to consumer response to the brand — on the current Winston Churchill line, it became clear that this line had far greater potential globally.
Reklame: Once the decision to re-brand was made, what were the first steps Davidoff took?
CA: The approach was to first dig deeper to understand in great depth Sir Winston Churchill – the man – with the help of his great grandson. It became quickly clear that the multiple facets and talents of the man were largely unknown to many. The complexity of character of the most iconic cigar aficionado in history served as the challenge and inspiration to the Davidoff master blender to develop complex and multifaceted cigars. Once the blend was developed, the communication and packaging was developed to reflect the “Cigars of Character” concept.
Reklame: Winston Churchill is now a Davidoff-branded product, with a band specially designed for it. What led to this decision?
CA: This was not a difficult decision as Winston Churchill embodies the Davidoff brand.
Winston Churchill is a personality line within the Davidoff brand. It is for this reason that we gave more prominence to the silhouette of Sir Winston Churchill rather than to the brand logo on the band. The band helps immediate recognition of the Winston Churchill cigar line within the Davidoff brand in the stores.
Reklame: The “man of many faces” approach does a good job of capturing the complexity of Sir Winston Churchill, the man, on a broad scale. How was this approach decided upon, and how did the company decide which character facets to focus on?
CA: While everyone knows of Sir Winston Churchill as a great political leader and commander who influenced the course of history in the 20th century, many are unaware of how complex and rich his character was. Moreover, this route was hugely inspiring for our master blender in developing a blend as complex as the man himself.
The decision on which facets to focus on was driven by the character traits that had most interesting stories to tell and the links these have with the various cigars.
Reklame: Did you experience any difficulties or hiccups along the way of re-launching Davidoff Winston Churchill?
CA: Not really. Once the decision was made to re-launch the line, it has been smooth sailing. The team was determined to make the only cigar line that bears the Winston Churchill name truly exceptional.
Reklame: What does Davidoff Winston Churchill ultimately represent to the company?
CA: A great opportunity to delight aficionados around the world with a line of fabulous cigars and allow them to discover the facets of character of the world’s most iconic cigar aficionado of all time.
Reklame: Where does the brand fall into the overall Davidoff portfolio?
CA: It is an important line within the brand that offers a unique experience vs all other Davidoff blends thanks to its complex blend of Nicaraguan, Mexican, Dominican and Ecuadorian tobaccos.
Reklame: Overall, what do you hope consumers will get out of Davidoff Winston Churchill?
CA: I hope they will fill their time beautifully with this cigar and become interested to find out more about the rich character of this exceptional man and the significant role cigars played in his life.
Reklame: Traditionally, Davidoff has operated in a manner that is exceedingly well calculated and thorough—what lies in store for the company moving forward?
CA: We have exciting innovation plans for the brand under the Time Beautifully Filled platform. We will be bringing an exceptional new cigar line by summer, a new cigarillo soon and exciting accessories initiatives. We will also bring further initiatives in Services through the Hourglass Lounge – the first global concierge service dedicated to the cigar aficionado.
Last, we are continuing to revamp our Retail and Lounge experiences across the globe with new openings, renovations as well as improved brand presentation in our Appointed Merchant network.
Reklame: Davidoff seems to be as relevant in the market as ever. How do you keep a pulse and adapt to the modern market without compromising integrity?
CA: Davidoff is a brand with rich heritage and fabulous equities. My role is to ensure all we do as a brand helps reinforce these equities and builds desire for the brand amongst today’s aficionados.
Keeping the pulse in the market can only be achieved by spending time with aficionados in stores across the globe and having a clear and in-depth understanding of the role that cigars, and more specifically Davidoff, plays in their lives and the emotions these trigger. I spent the last two weeks in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai with aficionados from the region to better understand the emerging cigar culture in this region.