Case Detail

Case Summary

R. J. Reynolds's Dakota Cigarette (A2)

Case Number: 5-306-500 (A2), Year Published: 2006

HBS Number: KEL161

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Authors: Robbin Derry; Sachin Waikar

Key Concepts

Target Marketing, Health Advocacy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Whistle Blowing, Social Activists


While R. J. Reynolds prepares to launch a new cigarette designed to recapture a portion of the 18- to 24-year-old female market from Philip Morris’s rival Marlboro, a small health advocacy group receives an anonymous package exposing the marketing plans for the new brand. The case poses the tactical strategies of the public health advocates against the defensive strategies of RJR as each group pursues its own goals. This case is designed to be used with the "Stumbling Giant: R. J. Reynolds in the 1980s" case (#KEL184). The method for using these cases is as follows: the Stumbling Giant case is distributed to all students as background for this case. A few weeks prior to the scheduled class discussion, RJR Dakota (A1) is given to half of the students in the class, while (A2) is given to the other half. The (A1) students should consider the corporate strategy in preparation for the product launch. The (A2) students should consider the appropriate action and strategy of the Women vs. Smoking Network. Each group is asked to plan its own strategies without sharing information with the other group, simulating the situation of the corporate actors making plans unaware of the whistleblowing that released substantial information to the Women vs. Smoking Network. Students may be asked to prepare for class individually or in working groups within (A1) and (A2). In class the (A1) students should open the discussion with their proposed strategies, followed by the revelations and strategies of the (A2) students. Following the discussion of student strategies, (B) is given to all students to read and discuss in class. This contains the actual strategies of the two groups, the subsequent public reactions, and the effects on the product launch. This case may also be used in conjunction with the Uptown Cigarette case (#KEL221, KEL222, KEL223), which focuses on another product launch at R. J. Reynolds, occurring one month prior to the events of this Dakota case.

Number of Pages: 9

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Management, Marketing, Strategy, Non Profit

Geographic: United States

Industry: Tobacco

Organization Name: R.J. Reynolds

Organization Department: Public Affairs, Marketing

Organization Size: Large

Year of Case: 1990