In 1962, a bright, shiny new agency Collett Dickerson Pearce was offered a big account, the DuMaurier cigarette brand.
This good news was particularly timely, as many at the fledgling agency were starting to worry their jobs.
The agency turned the offer down.
Founder John Pearce told the potential client the brand was a ‘dead duck’, and he didn’t want his agency to work with ‘no-hope brands’ or brands that they didn’t truly believe would respond to advertising.
But being a decent sort of chap, Mr Pearce tried to help out the client trying to give him some business, by saying he’d take on that ‘funny looking king-size brand in gold foil packs’ that he’d recently seen in Old Bond Street shop.
The client was baffled, he said he agreed that the brand in question may have a future in the king-size sector, but that sector was small he couldn’t commit much budget to it.
‘Never mind the budget’ said Pearce ‘Give us the brand and we’ll make something of it.’
The early work looks unremarkable, but at the time cigarette ads came in two flavours;
a) Starring heroes; cowboys, naval officers and all manner old world status symbols.
b) Starring ‘cool young people snogging and smoking’, as early B&H copywriter Frank McCone put it.
Because king-size cigarettes carried a king-size price tag, Frank and Art Director Mike Savino tried to justify the price by referencing the distinctive gold foil pack.
They wrote a line ‘Pure Gold from Benson & Hedges’.
As the campaign developed they started treating the pack as if it were a valuable object, like jewellery or money.
As the campaign develops so too does the photography.
Some of the images still look amazing.
And by 1980, (still with CDP), Benson & Hedges was the biggest selling cigarette in Britain.