Doral Cigarettes: Bringing Cigarette Advertising Back to its Roots

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Author: Shane Molliwan

In 2000, Doral cigarettes featured an interesting promotion. They started printing cigarette cards to promote their brand, the first cigarette cards to be printed by a major cigarette company since the 1940s. While a few small manufacturers in the UK printed sets of cigarette cards as promotional items between the 50s and 70s, it was the first major resurgence of an advertising item which used to be extremely popular across the world.

Doral cigarettes' cigarette cards hearken back to one of the earliest kinds of promotional collectibles. The manufacture of cigarette cards as a promotional item began in 1875. Technological advances at the time allowed such items to be printed far more cheaply than they had been previously, and the explosion of cigarettes' popularity in the English-speaking world following the Crimean War made such promotions a smart way to promote cigarettes. The American tobacco company Allen and Ginter were the first to issue promotional cigarette cards in packs of their cigarettes, printing cards featuring notable figures such as athletes and Indian chiefs. The popularity of cigarette cards in America led to UK companies issuing similar sets, such as John Player & Sons' “Castles and Abbeys”. Many other companies around the world began manufacturing cigarette cards soon after, due to the increasing popularity of cigarettes as well as the success of cigarette cards to promote brands.

The first set of Doral cigarettes' cards, “Doral Celebrate America”, was issued from 2000-2001 and featured facts about the 50 states. The older cards that Doral cigarettes' cards were based on tended to feature subjects such as athletes (particularly baseball players and boxers in America, footballers in the rest of the world), cities, famous actresses and models, and important military figures and uniforms. One of the most famous cigarette cards is that of turn of the century baseball star Honus Wagner. The cigarette card featuring him was sold for a record $2.35 million sum in 2007, before being re-sold later that year for another record amount of $2.8 million.

Doral cigarettes issued several more sets after this in 2001, including: Transportation 1920s and 1930s, Dance and Music 1920s and 1930s, Architecture 1940s and 1950s, Technology 1940s and 1950s, Leisure Time 1960s and 1970s, Architecture 1960s and 1970s, Dance and Music 1980s and 1990s, and Women's Fashions 1980s and 1990s. Soon after this promotion by Doral cigarettes, Natural American Spirit, another cigarette brand owned by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, issued their own set of cigarette cards, with facts on important issues like wind power and diversity. While this promotion by Doral cigarettes was a brief one, its success made it clear that collectors are still interested in the idea of cigarette cards today.

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