Background & Challenge

Helping a 60-year-old brand that was stagnant and consistently underperforming in the little cigar category “rise from the ashes,” (so to speak), would require more than a fresh new look. As a first step, we gathered insights from focus groups, online surveys and sales data to better define our target consumer and identify the emotional and rational drivers to influence purchase. Based on our findings, we sought to establish a powerful new marketing position that would ultimately relaunch Captain Black as a new line of high-quality, flavorful little cigars supported by a packaging design inspired by Captain Black’s worldly adventures.

Captain Black original Logo
Captain Black original packaging

Our Approach

With multiple packaging concepts to support the new creative platform and brand positioning, we shelf tested our ideas with current customers and packaging focus groups to better understand purchase intent, design preference and product descriptor preference. The result? With the new “exotic and flavorful adventures in smoking” positioning splashed across all of our creative elements, sales of Captain Black grew by more than 180% in the first 6 months, and market share doubled in the first year! In fact, the launch was so successful, R.J. Reynolds/Lane Ltd. awarded us a second rebranding initiative for their Winchester® Little Cigars brand.

Captain Black new logo


Rebranding Design

Raised on a tobacco farm, Captain Black left home at the age of 15 to become a sailor on the high seas. One with the water, salt and sun, he quickly became known as the “tobacco flavor scout,” in search of the finest exotic flavors the world had to offer.

Captain Black ship logo comparison

Bringing Captain Black into the modern age meant refreshing the brand’s outdated iconography. This included reimagining his old wooden sailing ship as a sleek and speedy new schooner that would enable Captain Black to make his many journeys with ease.


Captain Black color pallet first 3Captain Black color pallet last 2

Captain Black palatino medium
Captain Black palatino bold
Captain Black charlamagne

Captain Black cigars

Paper Textures

In order to appeal to both female and male consumers, paper textures and flavored tips were tested and selected to enhance the user experience.

Captain Black flavors - vanilla
Captain Black flavors - sweet cherry

Captain Black flavors - peach rum
Captain Black flavors - sweets


Leveraging the brand’s aromatic portfolio – including popular flavors such as Cherry, Peach, Vanilla and Honey – we were able to expand distribution in the Chain Convenience Store channel.

Captain Black passport

Passport & Discovery Gear

On-pack promotions were created to incent purchase drive loyalty while creating a sense of adventure. By accumulating points via “stamps” for their passports, consumers could trade them in for everything from fishing and camping gear to clothing and jewelry – helping to continue the Captain Black story beyond their product line.

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Connect with us.

Come check us out in the historic Marietta McClaren Mill. We’ve always got some coffee brewing and plenty of space to stretch out and chat about your business needs. Or if you’re short on time, you can just drop us a note here and say hey.