OTP: Onward To Playboy?

Skoal smokeless tobacco is giving as many as 2,000 contributing editors the opportunity to contribute to the January 2009 issue of Playboy, which will be the magazine’s 55th anniversary issue, brandweek.com reported.

The "Skoal Builds Playboy" promotion will allow fans to help put together a 12-page special section in the magazine, the Web site said.

The Playboy and Skoal promotion went live last week with the debut of SkoalBrotherhood.com. Skoal’s support on the print side breaks out next month with simple black page ads in a number of men’s magazine’s, including Maxim, Men’s Journal, Car & Driver and Road & Track, brandweek.com reported.

The ads will direct readers to check out the promo that "we can’t talk about in other magazines." Skoal is the lead smokeless tobacco brand for United States Smokeless Tobacco.

"It’s much more engaged and shows much more respect and embrace of the consumer than saying here just enter our sweepstakes," said Ted Parrack, chief strategy officer at Colangelo, Darien, Conn., the agency that created the campaign.

Participants of "Skoal Builds Playboy" will have a chance to contribute editorial content to some of the magazine’s iconic pages by submitting a party joke, voting for which celebrity to interview (choices are World Series of Poker champ Chris Moneymaker, Pro Bass fisherman Skeet Reese, and former NFL and rodeo star Walt Garrison), asking a Playmate a question and voting for one of 12 clothed Skoal models to be featured in a pictorial.

The more frequently a contestant visits the site, the better the chances of being named among the contributing editors. The promotion ends Aug. 25, when the Web site will change into a behind-the-scenes look at the Skoal models photo shoot. It also kicks off a sweepstakes to send winners to Playboy’s "VIP Player Pajama and Lingerie Party" in Los Angeles.

Skoal sales and smokeless tobacco sales in general have been growing partly because smokers are switching when they find themselves in places and situations where they are unable to light up a cigarette.

"The point of ‘Welcome to the Brotherhood’ is to embrace the dippers who are already a part of this brand and is intended to show that this is a brand that I as an adult smoker might want to be a part of," said Thano Chaltas, vice president of marketing at USST. "Looking at Playboy’s data, about 600,000 of its readership are currently smokeless tobacco consumers and another 3.7 million are adult smokers."

Skoal spent $11 million on advertising last year, not including online, and $4 million through May of this year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

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