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Disclaimer: While I do smoke, I don't normally smoke Marlboros. I find all Marlboros to have a certain aftertaste to them I would prefer to avoid. If I say something particularly nasty about these, take it with a large pinch of salt.

Oh yeah, and smoking's really bad for you.

Marlboro Blend No. 27s are Philip Morris' attempt at brand diversification; over the last decade the company has pretty much exhausted the possibilities of working within their product line (what with the ultra-light, light, medium and full-flavored varieties maxed out in both their regular and mentholated iterations) so a move outside of the normal range was pretty much the only place to go. From a marketing perspective they seem to have done an excellent job.

The package keeps the traditional design elements from the rest of their product line but ditches the normal solid colors for a metallic copper sheen. They stand out from the rest of the Marlboro product line and effectively compete for visual attention with other brands as well. Also, the psychological impact of numbering the blend (a number that's probably influenced more by marketing considerations than by anything else) isn't inconsiderable - it implies a testing process, that it took that many tries to get them just right, as well as opening the door for more blends in the series farther down the line. Plus, they cunningly avoid the standard labels that most of us use to differentiate one series from another; most people will assume that these smoke's strength will lie somewhere between lights and full flavors; this allows for the greatest number of converts. If they labelled them as "Blend 27 Lights" the Camel Filter smokers wouldn't go near them.

Philip Morris is also running an impressive guerilla-style marketing campaign, sending good looking guys and gals out to city bars on weekends to gather marketing data, as well as give away free stuff like Zippos with copper cases and coupons. Very smooth of them; they're essentially doing what Apple Computer did with the Bondi Blue iMac, permanently associating the color with the brand and reminding the promo recipient of it every time they use their new Zippo. Because they're not giving away crap gifts and because these gifts have cool factor, there's a damn good shot that that lighter's going to become a permanent resident of some smoker's pocket. I knew it was going to be an effective ad campaign when I saw my boss had one.

/me lights up with copper zippo.

Anyway. The taste. These things aren't half bad. Their strength hovers somewhere between mediums and full-flavors with a bit of a hickory aftertaste (though that annoying post-puff metallic tinge I can't stand is still present). They're a good drinking smoke, stronger than my normal cigarettes (camel lights) with an interesting twist to the flavor. Like most Marlboros these things burn extremely fast, and while they rip your lungs apart the way any strong cigarette does, they're not as satisfying as they should be - you find yourself reaching for your pack a helluva lot sooner than you normally would. They're pretty standard, really, with some good changes and some annoying quirks, but more than anything they're a wonderful proof of the power of advertising.

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