“Celebrities” that tried to become “Cigar-Lebrities”
An editorial by David Garofalo
“Celebrity” refers to the fame and public attention one receives. Celebrity status is often associated with wealth, while fame often provides opportunities to make money. Although the term “celebrity” is often intended to refer to famous individuals, it is also commonly used to refer to anyone who has had any moderate public attention in media, regardless of how well-known they are beyond their niche.
“Cigar-Lebrity” is a term coined first by The Cigar Authority’s Mr. Jonathan to describe a person in the cigar industry that has gotten some sort of celebrity recognition within the cigar industry. This recognition is from a person who knows cigars and the cigar industry. A person most people in the cigar industry know and is somewhat of a “celebrity” within the industry itself. Over the years, it could be the owner of the cigar factory, the owner of a cigar brand, a cigar roller, a sales representative, a magazine publisher, shop owner and even a guy on a cigar podcast or blog. Simply put, they are a Celebrity within the Cigar World.
Over the years, there has been many Cigar-Lebrities who tried to become celebrities and failed but many more tried it the other way around… and also failed. The first I can recall hearing about was Babe Ruth. In 1920 creating his own brand that earned him a whopping $5,000 in profit. His salary at the Yankees, movie deal and book rights were so much more he decided his time was better spent elsewhere, but that history did not keep others from trying themselves.
Fast forward to the early 1990’s we saw a team up of two movie celebrities Chuck Norris and Jim Belushi who came out with their “Lone Wolf” brand. This, during the cigar boom of the 90’s lead to lots of others attaching their names to brands including the “tan man,” George Hamilton, with H. Upmann. You may have seen him lately as the extra-Krispy Colonel with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Even Daredevil Evil Knievel attempted his biggest feat of all and tried his luck in the cigar business without any success
Boston Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant tried it 3 different times with 3 different manufacturers as did Coach Mike Ditka who is still in the business, once with Pacific cigar, then Graycliff and now Camacho… maybe three times is the charm?
George Burns was late in his 90’s when he entered into an agreement with his favorite cigar El Producto, which soon went away.
The cable TV giant HBO gave the rights to one of their shows called The Soprano’s to CAO Cigars and even director Francis Ford Coppola put his name on an Italian stogie by Avanti. Even Cable TV sensations Duck Dynasty tried it with Ted’s Cigars. Do you noticed a trend here?
For the most part, it’s a swing and a miss all around. Attaching a big celebrity name in some way, either closely owned or just as a royalty hasn’t really worked out well. But some have stuck including; King Edwards, a huge selling, low priced machine made cigar sold in most convenience stores. Al Capone, another machine made flavored cigarillo. Then you have the Hemingway line by Arturo Fuente that is always held in high regards in the premium cigar world as is Winston Churchill by Davidoff and The Duke of Windsor by Macanudo and Byron (Lord Byron) by Selected Tobacco.
Others trying their luck right now include Rapper “Jay Z” with Cohiba in the Dominican Republic, Ray Lewis and Gary Sheffield with Rocky Patel. Writer, director Rob Weiss with B G Myer Cigars sold through Davidoff. Actor Amand Assante continues his brand Ora Vivo with Legacy Brands, and we await the launch of Big Papi for Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. It’s coming out as soon he is retired from baseball and can legally come out with his new brand and new business… but will it or any of these catch on and succeed? Can he hit it out of the ball park? Most have tried to make the transition from Celebrity to Cigar-Lebrity and failed, and others are trying as we speak.
Due to FDA language there will be no one able to even try again in the future, but I can’t help but to think of the ones that could have or maybe should have tried. People who cigar smokers may associate cigars with. Celebrities like John F. Kennedy, or how about Fidel Castro himself? There is an “Ortsac” Cigar that is Castro spelled backwards but not associated with Castro himself.
How about Milton Berle? He had a cigar magazine called “Milton” but that failed after just a few issues. How about Bill Cosby? Maybe not such a good idea (insert joke here)! Red Auerbach, famous Boston Celtic Coach? Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, or Groucho Marx? How about Bill Clinton, Monica got one?
Michael Jordan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rush Limbaugh or W.C. Fields or even Charlie Chaplin? How about Mayor Rudy Giuliani (which gives me the opportunity to show off and put my picture here with him.) What about Alfred Hitchcock or Sigmund Freud… what would he think?
Here is what I think. It’s all about the cigar, the name on the band has little to do with it as far as a regular celebrity is concerned. But as a “Cigar-lebrity” is concerned it has a lot to do with it. A “Cigar-lebrity” pulls much more weight to a cigar smoker than a regular celebrity. If they are famous in the cigar world (Cigar-lebrity), we know their cigars and are worth a try. But, because of the failing history of celebrities attaching their name to a cigar, it is almost a negative and has a perception as being overpriced without even being smoked which in itself is unfair but true.
I’m missing a bunch of celebrity brands of cigars, maybe you remember some that I forgot, let me know. We’ll be discussing more about it this week on The Cigar Authority broadcast. Tune-in and Light-up.