Giving Marty the Spotlight

20th July, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial

Long-time friend, and well-known pipe purveyor, Marty Pulvers, has posted a thoughtful commentary on his site regarding Dunhill’s current attitude towards pipes, smokers’ requisites and tobaccos, the very commodities responsible for their decades-old success. These things, along with their consumers, have been methodically relegated, over recent years, to the dusty, cobweb filled back rooms. And, now, it appears they might rather simply forget that these products, and those who have loved them, ever even existed. A shame, really.

Marty’s site does not archive his editorials, and I thought this wonderfully reasoned piece deserved a “spot” where it might be preserved, so I asked him for, and was given, permission to reproduce it here, to remain in the archives for as long as this site may exist.


17th July, 2010

Regular visitors have come to learn that they can rely on this page for unerring directives on how to live their lives. (I apologize to those with strong religious or philosophical orientations for having, undoubtedly, created a conflict as to whom they should consult in their quotidian activities.) Recently, we’ve been able to recommend, for instance, what under pants to buy and we could just as easily field questions about where to get socks.

Today, though, I’m going to veer off that path and discuss pipes. I wouldn’t normally go there (people, me included, prefer to play to their strengths, not their weaknesses) but a long-time, smart Pipe Man brought forth an issue that deserves attention. It was during our Pipe & Pint Thursday and as at most discussions between pipe people, the name Dunhill came up.

It was then that Mark made mention of the fact that recent ads ostensibly promoting Dunhill pipes don’t even mention the name “Dunhill.” The ad only refers to the “White Spot.”

The unsubtle message is that the company that now owns Dunhill, Richemont, wants to distance itself from tobacco, tobacco use and mostly tobacco users. They are not going to have the name of a company they own, Dunhill, associated with tobacco use. This goes far in explaining why we no longer can find Dunhill tobacco blends, a staple for almost 100 yrs. We are, to clarify their exact position on this topic, the kind of whore they want to sleep with but whom, in the light of day, they will not be seen with and definitely not bring home to introduce to their parents. (If you don’t care to waste your time looking up Richemont, they own brands like Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, IWC, Piaget and other top watch companies, and other luxury good makers.)

As the whore (metaphorically speaking, only) who is providing the service, I can tell you that I am mighty insulted by that behavior…for a couple of reasons. One, of course, is the fact that it is smokers who have been more than just instrumental in providing the clientèle that made Dunhill a name of international renown. In return, for decades and decades, Dunhill proudly owned up to making and selling smokers articles of quality. (They are now just a brand name and make nearly nothing for smokers, as far as I can tell.) Now, they only want our money, but not our actual presence in their stores, which either no-longer exist, or exist but don’t sell smoker’s articles.

The 2nd reason I feel insulted is that they did not think we smokers, whom Richemont must think of as second class mentalities, would be able to discern, or react, to this kind of snub and we would continue to patronize their brand from the outside “To Go” window because we are not allowed into the store. If this reminds you of how Afro-Americans felt in Jim Crow America, you are on to something.

Considering that the current output of Dunhill hardly sends we pipe geeks into paroxysms of joy any longer (tobacco blender Joe Lankford spent hours washing the red stain out of his new Dunhill’s shank before he would dare smoke it, as is often the case with a new Peterson; they’re probably both made by the same bowl-dunking company) we can let the company lie in its own muck; no action is necessary. What must be irritating to the parent company, however, is the large business done in second-hand Dunhills. The sales and popularity of those pipes can’t add to the coffer of the company today. Tough.

Keep your eyes open for “White Spot” ads and then you can sneer and spit. That’s what I now do.