Camel cigarettes branded for the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, called recently (and for years prior) the “new front line” of gentrification, are selling pretty well in their namesake area, at least according to anecdotes from bodega owners. Brooklyn Paper reports that the special packs, also rotting minds and lungs in Seattle and Austin, are “selling out…quick.” Sure, they’re a buck cheaper, but they’re also the evil idea of R.J. Reynolds, a huge corporation.
In his Brooklyn Paper column, Andy Campbell compares the cigarettes to “the old Jewish joke about free ham”:
As a hipster, I’m aware of how Camel is trying to make a buck off my club-going, cooler-than-cool, lightly gentrifying ways. But as a hipster, I’m also perpetually broke, so I’d smoke shoe polish if it would save me a dollar per pack.
But less culture-co-option-conscious Williamsburg residents are buying the things up anyway. Moreover, the company isn’t delivering large orders to local stores, possibly in an attempt to whip up interest in the quick-selling cigarettes.
Heck, one woman even walks into the N 7 Market on Bedford Avenue and N. Seventh Street every single day to see if any Williamsburg packs arrived, a cashier said. When the packs are around, she buys every single one.
That said: “This smacks of a PR stunt,” writes Neil Alumkal, the founder of a Williamsburg PR agency who blogs, and is probably looking to stake his own claim to attention in this exploitation saga. “The local hipsters wouldn’t be caught dead with a pack of these Camels — even ironically smoking them.”
But whether or not they’re actually flying off the sheles, let us never forget how these things are being marketed — “about last call, a sloppy kiss goodbye and a solo saunter to a rock show in an abandoned building. It’s where a tree grows” is real ad copy — and shell out an extra dollar for ciggies that will kill you all the same, but leave New York out of it.
Also, in related media, this is from 1992, via Neighborhoodr:
[h/t The Hairpin]