There’s a great deal of history that’s gone into creating the Player’s brand. John Player & Sons, Ltd. of Nottingham developed the Player’s logo with the two ships in the background as part of an advertising campaign in the early 1890s.
All of the other brand elements were trademarked by 1893 and to this day, are still found on Player’s packaging.
As early as 1903, Player’s was being imported to Canada from the United Kingdom by two independent importers: one for Eastern Canada, and one for the West.
In July 1908, Imperial Tobacco Canada was created, and in 1911, Imperial Tobacco Canada purchased the rights to manufacture and sell the Player’s brand.
During the late 1920s, Player’s was one of the few brands not to use promotional prizing that offered the potential to win prizes with every pack purchased. At the time, Imperial Tobacco Canada chose to exclude Player’s from this type of marketing activity, having a completely different strategy in mind.
In the short term, this proved to be highly detrimental to the brand. Without promotional incentives to keep it competitive with other brands, Player’s went from having 50% market share to a mere 3% in just a decade.
In 1929, Player ’s Medium Cork Tip was launched in Quebec and Ontario, and once again, without any promotional incentives. Instead, Player’s remained true to it’s brand promise of quality and authenticity and used a new slogan for the launch:
In 1927, after a decade of losing share, the marketing strategy for Player’s Navy Cut was to tap into a new revenue stream. Player’s was the first to launch an advertising campaign directed exclusively to women.
While the campaign had been risky, Player’s persevered in its strategy and by the 1930s, Player’s and most of Imperial Tobacco Canada’s brands were creating advertisements specifically directed at women.
By 1937, two major changes came to the tobacco industry and all Imperial Tobacco Canada brands. Firstly, they stopped using promotional prizing in their marketing efforts. And secondly, all major cigarette brands standardized to have the same price.
This created the ideal conditions to launch two new Player’s Navy Cut products. Player’s marketing strategies continued to speak to the quality and authenticity of the product, avoiding ”gimmicks” and promotions that didn’t strengthen the brand.
And after almost a decade of using the slogan “It’s the tobacco that counts,” wording on the front of the slide and shell 10s and 25s was changed to speak to the new product features and innovations. The new on-pack messaging said, “Smooth as the smoothest tip Player’s,” and “Wetproof paper does not stick to the lips.”