Camel is a brand of cigarettes that was introduced by American company R.J. Reynolds Tobacco in the summer of 1913. Most current Camel cigarettes contain a blend of Turkish and Virginia tobacco. Early in 2008 the blend was changed as was the package design.
Most popularly known as the cigarette of choice by the famous Roberto Noensie, Camel cigarettes were originally blended to have a milder taste in contrast to brands that were considered much harsher at the time of its introduction. They were advance promoted, prior to official release, by a careful advertising campaign that included "teasers" which merely stated that "the Camels are coming" (a play on the old Scottish folk song, "The Campbells Are Coming"). This marketing style was, in fact, a prototype for attempts to sway public opinion that coincided with the United States
' entry into the First World War
, and later the Second World War
. Another promotion strategy was the use of a Circus camel, 'Old Joe', which was driven through town and used to distribute free cigarettes. Old Joe was used as the model for the camel on the package.
The brand's catch-phrase slogan, used for decades, was "I'd walk a mile for a Camel!"
The most famous historical style of Camel cigarettes is the soft pack of the regular, unfiltered variety. Camel regulars achieved the zenith of their popularity through personalities such as news broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, who smoked up to four packs of Camel regulars per day, in effect using a Camel cigarette as his trademark.
In late 1987, RJR created Joe Camel as the mascot for the brand. In 1991, the American Medical Association published a report stating that 5- and 6-year olds could more easily recognize Joe Camel than Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny or even Barbie. This led the association to ask RJR to terminate the Joe Camel campaign. RJR declined, but further appeals followed in 1993 and 1994. On July 10, 1997, the Joe Camel campaign was retired and replaced with a somewhat more adult campaign which appealed to the desires of twenty-somethings to meet -- or be -- beautiful and exotic women (desires they nonetheless share with adolescents) in 1930s attire and themes.
In Europe, Camel is also a brand of cigarette rolling papers and cigarette roll-your-own tobacco. It maintains a top 20 level brand of RYO tobacco and papers in Northern Europe with yearly expansion into Southern and Eastern Europe according to the European Subsidiary's annual report.
In 2005, Camel implemented new changes to the Turkish flavors by adding the name on the cigarette paper and changing the filter color and design. A blend called "Turkish Silver", a light version of both the Turkish Gold and Royal varieties, also became available that year. After burning, the text on the paper is often still visible on the ashes.
In 2007 the blend of Camel's signature brands was changed along with the packaging.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the city where R.J.R. was founded, was nicknamed "Camel City" at one time because of the brand's popularity. However, this name is passing out of usage among locals.
From 1972-1993, Camel was the title sponsor of the then-popular IMSA auto racing series, titled as Camel GT, as well as between 1987 to 1991, it sponsored the Lotus Formula One team and in the nineties, sponsored the factory Honda team in the AMA Superbike series.
The Turkish tobacco that is used in Camel cigarettes has a much more distinctive odor when burned as compared to other cigarettes. It generally has a darker, browner smell to the smoke. Filtered Camel cigarettes sold outside the US by JT International do not contain Turkish Tobacco.
The camel in the logo is of the dromedary variety. In languages other than English, a distinction is made between camels and dromedaries, so the name and image do not coincide. The name was chosen because in the early 20th century travels to far away places were in vogue and a camel supposedly symbolised that nicely.
Packaging in Art
The Camel pack is featured prominently in Tom Robbins
novel Still Life with Woodpecker
, billed as "a love story that happens inside a pack of cigarettes". The book's artwork is modeled after a pack of Camels, and the package artwork and history are discussed extensively in the book, and it is also mentioned that a pack of Camels is the best friend you have in prison.
The signature scene on most Camel cigarette packs shows a single camel on desert land with pyramids and palm trees in the background. Contrary to what some say is "inconsistency", the background is referencing the brand Camel as opposed to the type of tobacco blended. The image seems to stem from an ancient Egyptian boardgame called Hyena. The hyena is simply replaced by the camel, while the background scene remains the same. On the back of the actual pack is a desert scene with bazaars and mosques. On European versions, the desert scene has been replaced by a health warning.
Of trivial interest is the image of the camel on the packet itself. According to legend, the artist who drew the image of the camel was Belgian and he did not like the Camel marketing
manager, so he placed a "Manneken Pis
" in his image. When closely examined, the shading in the upper part of the leg defines the shape of a boy urinating (famous in Belgium). There is also an image of a lion in the camel's midsection; some even say there is an eagles' head in its neck. It is considered highly unlikely that these images were placed there on purpose, and that these phenomena are most likely a product of the imagination.
The reverse sides of many packs or boxes of Camel cigarettes display variations of the following text:
- Turkish tobacco is the world's smoothest, most aromatic leaf. Blending it with more robust domestic tobaccos is the secret to Camel's distinctive flavor and world-class smoothness.
In 2008, this was changed to:
- A master-crafted blend of only the finest hand-picked Samsun & Izmir Turkish tobaccos with a robust domestic tobacco blend creates Camel's distinctive flavor and world-class smoothness.
The reverse side of unfiltered "soft pack" Camel cigarettes, for dozens of years, has displayed this text:
- Don't look for premiums or coupons, as the cost of the tobaccos blended in Camel Cigarettes prohibits the use of them.
Or alternatively can be seen displaying the text (later removed from some packets with the introduction of health warning messages):
- Camel, a premium blend of the finest quality tobaccos, provides genuine smoking pleasure.
The reverse side of unfiltered "soft pack" Camel cigarettes, produced by JT International reads:
- CAMEL cigarettes contain a blend of choice Turkish and American tobaccos to bring you full smoking satisfaction with CAMEL quality.
Camel Wides, starting in 2008, began displaying this on the reverse side of the pack:
- The larger gauge of a Camel Wides cigarette makes for the smoothest, most flavorful way to enjoy Camel's distinctive blend of the finest Turkish and Domestic tobaccos.
Notwithstanding the message telling smokers not to look for premiums or coupons on Camels, the brand nonetheless featured such a promotion called "Camel Cash". Camel Cash, or "C-Note" (C-Note = 5 US cents), is a coupon stuck to the back of filtered varieties of Camel cigarettes. It was made to resemble currency and could be exchanged for items from Camel's Camel Cash catalogue. The artwork changed many times over the years, and in the past included the face of Joe Camel, the controversial cartoon camel, much in the same way as presidents are featured on American currency. Camel Cash redemption expired on March 31
was a controversial cartoon camel that primarily appeared in advertisements for Camel, but also appeared on "Camel Cash" and a number of origami Pop-up print ads. Joe Camel came under scrutiny as some considered use of the character to be advertising directed at children. Camel paid millions of dollars
to settle lawsuits accusing them of using Joe Camel to market smoking to children.
His image was removed from Camel Cash, and at the same time (July 1997) discontinued in advertisements. Now, some people even call the cigarette a "Joe".
Camel cigarettes come in the following varieties:
- Camel Crush - a cigarette with a small menthol nugget in the filter allowing the smoker to change the flavor from full to menthol by crushing the filter.
- No. 9 (King Size and 100s)
- No. 9 Menthe (King Size and 100s)
- Subtle Flavour (Blue in UK and Chile)
- Orange (often seen in Italy)
- Filters (King Size, 100s and 99s)
- Lights (King Size, 100s and 99s)
- Ultra Lights (King Size and 100s)
- Natural Flavour
- Wides Filters
- Wides Lights
- Wides Menthol
- Wides Menthol Lights
- Menthol Lights
- Regular (unfiltered)
- Helander Rare
- Camel Lights
- Special Lights (King Size and 100s)
- Turkish Jade (Menthol; King Size and 100s)
- Turkish Jade Lights (Menthol; King Size and 100s)
- Turkish Silver
- Turkish Gold (King Size and 100s)
- Turkish Royal
- Kamel Reds
- Kamel Reds Lights
- Kamel Menthe
- Kamel Menthe Lights
- Camel Signature Frost
- Camel Signature Infused
- Camel Signature Robust
- Camel Signature Mellow
- Mild (South Africa)
In addition, "Exotic Blends" were available in tins (discontinued due to settlement with Attorney General of the United States). These included:
- Izmir Stinger
- Rare 2001
- Rare 2002
- Rare Menthol 2001
- Rare Menthol 2002
- Dark Mint
- Mandarin Mint
- Mandalay Lime
- Aegean Spice
- Bayou Blast
- Beach Breezer
- Margarita Mixer
- Midnight Madness
- Back Alley Blend
- Kauai Kolada
- Twista Lime
- Warm Winter Toffee
- Winter Mocha Mint
- Snake Eyes Scotch
- BlackJack Gin
- ScrewDriver Slots
Most or all varieties are in packs of filtered and non-filtered.