In-Depth: How The Number Three Cigarette In America Made Heuer A Household Name

In-Depth: How The Number Three Cigarette In America Made Heuer A Household Name

“A tough year, 1971.” With these four words, Jack Heuer – then the 38-year-old President of Heuer Leonidas – opened the 1972 contextual analysis on his company by the Swiss business college IMEDE.

The Heuer Time and Electronics Corp (HTEC), the American branch of the company, had appreciated 11 sequential long periods of expanded deals heading into 1969. By 1970, the U.S. had become Heuer’s biggest market, with $1.2 million in deals. However, 1971 was an alternate story. U.S. deals declined 19% (to $952,000) and HTEC endured a deficiency of $154,000.

Retailers feared the chronographs.

– Jack Heuer

Today’s gatherers may envision that, entering the 1970s, Heuer was getting a charge out of energy from presenting the world’s first automatic chronographs in 1969. Yet, the IMEDE contextual investigation recounts the narrative of a stopwatch company battling to sell chronographs by any means. Regardless of the presentation of the Autavias, Carreras, and Monacos, Heuer was all the while selling 10 fold the number of stopwatches as chronographs.

Priced from $185 to $220, the chronographs were moderately costly, complicated, and definitely more hard for sellers to disclose to clients than easier watches or stopwatches. Jack Heuer thought Heuer’s retailers—basically forte retailers of logical, mechanical, and instructive supplies, just as dashing, flying, and sailing equipment subject matter experts – feared the chronographs. Whether it was the value, the competition, or the complexity, HTEC sold fewer than 500 automatic chronographs in 1971. 

Not shockingly, Jack Heuer shut his recap with another four words – “I’d rather fail to remember 1971.”

Battling To Sell Cigarettes

But on the off chance that you think Heuer was having a tough time selling chronographs, envision the plight of the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company. Deals of cigarettes had been for all intents and purposes stale since 1964, when the U.S. Top health spokesperson delivered his report connecting smoking to malignancy. Also, a restriction on advertising tobacco on TV went into impact on January 2, 1971. Like with Heuer’s stopwatches, Brown & Williamson’s leading image Kool was selling well, yet its number two brand – Viceroy – was in the third situation in the full-flavor channel section, and was sinking fast.

For years, Viceroy’s advertising theme had been balance – “not very solid, not very light, Viceroy has the taste that’s right.” A typical ad might portray a woman offering her companion one of her cigarettes, and he, shockingly, appreciates the taste. The Viceroy was “less manly than its key competition,” and the brand had a “female direction,” as per inward archives. While the Viceroy couple shopped for flowers, the Marlboro man rode his horse straight into more market share.

Meet The Auto Racer

In 1972 Brown & Williamson chose to change all that. Instead of the gardener or the shopper, Viceroy would be the brand of the “Auto Racer,” who would represent individual joy, physiological fulfillment, strain delivery, and narcissism. A genuine 1970s man’s man.

The Dream Team

To uphold its Auto Racer campaign, Viceroy turned into a supporter of the Parnelli Jones Racing Team, which would handle the “Super Team” of Mario Andretti, Al Unser, and Joe Leonard in the Indianapolis 500 and other races. Emissary’s advertisements would utilize emotional photos of handsome racers with earth on their brows, wearing their dashing suits.

Official Brown & Williamson records read, “This campaign . . . forcefully follows men. It is advertising that is felt to be unique, noteworthy and will give Viceroy a required character.” Viceroy’s advancements group established that one of the racer’s images was the chronograph, and that a top quality chronograph, sold at a deal cost, would engage their intended interest group: men who appreciate adventure, thrills, and gratification.

The Watch For The Auto Racer

Brown & Williamson reached Heuer in late 1971 with offering the Heuer Autavia in a Viceroy advancement. Throughout the 1960s, Heuer was a prevailing presence at the course. Its stopwatches, handheld chronographs, dashboard clocks, and timing frameworks were the best quality levels in their particular categories.

Ronnie von Gunten, then chief VP of HTEC, reflects, “They [B&W] knew of our predominant situation in motorsports timing, and probably expected that we had this equivalent strength in selling chronographs. As you might expect, we were not slanted to address this picture.”

Viceroy Promotion

Viceroy would offer a unique adaptation of the Autavia automatic chronograph for $88 with the end fold from a container of Viceroy cigarettes. As of now Heuer was delivering two renditions of the Autavia, one with a dark dial and moment/hour bezel (Reference 1163 MH) and one with a white dial and tachymeter bezel (Reference 1163 T). Both models were estimated at $200.

For HTEC, the proposition from Viceroy appeared to be unrealistic. Brown & Williamson sought affirmations that Heuer could convey 16,000 chronographs over the seven-month life of the advancement, a volume that would have dramatically increased HTEC’s incomes. Hans Schrag, HTEC’s VP and technical administrator, asked Jack Heuer how they might actually bring in cash selling chronographs at such a low cost. Heuer reacted certainly, “Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing.”

Heuer understood that regardless of whether he just earned back the original investment on the watches, the company would benefit immensely from the Viceroy advancement. In 1971, Viceroy had burned through $12.3 million on advertising and deals advancement, and its magazine advertising allowed the brand to reach 70% of the U.S. adult populace a normal of multiple times each month. With the launch of the Auto Racer campaign, this spending plan would increment to $13.9 million for 1972. Heuer’s advertising spending plan was less than one-half of one percent of these amounts, with its positions restricted basically to expert magazines. 

Promotion Voucher Close Up

Viceroy would put advertisements showing the Heuer logo and the Autavia chronograph in leading public magazines. Purpose of-purchase shows – highlighting a daily existence size Auto Racer – would bring the Heuer Autavia to hundreds of general stores and odds and ends shops. Heuer would become a household name.

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The Viceroy Is Different, But The Same

However, Heuer wound up on a tightrope as it arranged for the Viceroy advancement launch. Brown & Williamson required affirmations that Heuer would keep up the $200 retail cost on the Autavias through the finish of 1972. Keeping up this value left Heuer’s vendors in a troublesome situation, as they were already battling to sell the $200 Autavias. Presenting $88 competition surely wasn’t going to help. 

Heuer guaranteed its vendors that the Viceroy Autavia would be not quite the same as the standard Autavias they were advertising. Instead of the polished steel hands, the Viceroys would have brushed steel hands with red accents (embeds and three-sided tips). The four numerals (3, 6, 9, and 12) were supplanted by 12. The minutes/hours bezel of the standard dark Autavia was supplanted by the tachymeter bezel utilized on the white “Siffert” Autavias.

(L) Heuer Autavia 1163 MH/$200 (R) Heuer Autavia 1163 V/$88

Heuer even went above and beyond, considering the Viceroy an “economy” model. Equipped with this mark, the sellers should have the option to persuade their clients that their $200 fundamental line Autavias were far better than the $88 Viceroys.

But, other than these three corrective contrasts, the watches were indistinguishable. To such an extent, truth be told, that Heuer started offering these indistinguishable watches through the seller channel, just with the standard dark dialed Autavias bearing the minutes/hour bezel.

Every reference Of The Heuer Autavia Automatic With A Black Dial.

Achievement (At Least For Heuer)

Brown & Williamson gave a public statement on May 15, 1972, launching Viceroy’s Heuer chronograph advancement, and within three weeks advertisements offering the $88 Viceroy Autavia showed up in the significant public magazines: Life, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and Sports Illustrated all drag ads. Advertisements in men’s magazines proceeded through the mid year, and the last advertisements for the advancement ran in August 1972, with arrangements in Playboy, Penthouse, Car and Driver, and Road and Track

The $88 Autavia was a deal and deals were solid, in any event by all accounts. Whereas Heuer might hope to sell fewer than 500 automatic chronographs each year in the United States, during the initial four months of the advancement the Viceroys were moving at a pace of right around 900 chronographs each month, as indicated by B&W. For Heuer, this was close to 12 months of deals each two weeks.

Surprisingly, the Heuer vendors were thrilled too. While it might have been challenging to sell the Autavias, the expanded awareness of the Heuer brand and the hustling imagery supported deals of other chronographs. Reviews Jack Heuer, “If a vendor complained that it couldn’t sell the Autavias due to the $88 Viceroys, we offered some straightforward advice – sell the other Heuer chronographs.”

Soon Heuer ceased the standard dark dialed Autavia, and the Viceroy made its way into the seller channel. Heuer kept up the $200 list value, staying faithful to its commitment, however marked down the wholesale cost so vendors were ready to offer limits. All things considered, the white dial automatic Autavia, known now as the “Jo Siffert,” held its unique wholesale edges and value, making it a much more expensive alternative.

The Viceroy Is Dead, Long Live The Viceroy

The Viceroy advancement lapsed on December 31, 1972, and von Gunten gauges that Heuer sold roughly 5,000 of the Viceroy Autavias during the seven month advancement. While the campaign was a failure for selling cigarettes, it did one hell of a task moving chronographs.

Heuer’s creation of the Viceroy Autavia proceeded for longer than a decade. With plentiful supplies of left over parts, it just made sense to proceed. In late 1972 the Viceroy Autavia moved from the first reference 1163 case to the bigger reference 11630 case, and in 1984 made its last move to the reference 11063 case. This 12-year-in addition to run was the longest for any dial/hand combination in Heuer’s history. You can discover more on these references here .

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The Viceroy took the Heuer chronograph from a restricted market at the course to a much broader crowd. Von Gunten takes note of the incongruity that, “It took a profound markdown advancement with the number three cigarette brand for the American public to see the Heuer chronographs and for these watches to discover their place in jewelry and retail locations. When we were battling in the mid 1970s, we always thought that the ideal watch at the right time would give Heuer the spot it merited in the U.S. market. We never saw it coming, however after 40 years, we can say that watch was the Viceroy.”


For additional information about the Viceroy Autavias, including itemized photos and chronic numbers, see the companion OnTheDash posting “Absolutely Everything About the Heuer Autavia Viceroy Chronograph” .

Special thanks to Jack Heuer, Ronnie von Gunten, and Hans Schrag for their priceless commitments to this story.

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