Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA, January 14, 2009. Dr. Fawky Abdallah is president
of Fawky Abdallah Company, Inc., an international consulting firm and ISSCORP(USA) a
sales and marketing corporation, both operating from Winston-Salem. ISSCORP launched
the WILSON cigarette for the first time in 1996. The official announcement was made in
Wilson, NC, at a special meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, held on March 21, 1996.
“We developed a genuine premium brand with an authentic designer package that
is in a class of its own”, Dr. Abdallah stated. He explained that WILSON’s target
customers are medium to high income 25 - 49 year olds who enjoy the finer things in
life and, if they choose to smoke, they do so moderately and responsibly.
Dr. Abdallah, who has been in the tobacco business for 50 years, is a leaf expert by
training and has received his doctorate degree in cigarette smoke evaluation from NC State
University, USA. He is the author of the book Can Tobacco Quality be Measured?, which
was first published in 1970 and then reprinted and published in English and Spanish
in 2006. Dr. Abdallah has also written numerous technical papers, given seminars and
provided consulting services on leaf blending and processing know-how and cigarette
manufacturing technology, both in the USA and overseas. In 2004, he published his book
Cigarette Product Development, which was well received and by 2006 was translated and
published in Chinese and Russian.
Dr. Abdallah headed a small core of professionals who spent considerable time and effort
researching the market to identify a target product and to select a brand name before
starting to develop the required blend and processing know-how. “Since our studies
showed that the U. S. as well as the international markets are flooded with
discount and low-price cigarettes, we decided to produce a premium cigarette.
We selected the name WILSON, after the city and County of Wilson, North Carolina,
a major market for superior quality tobacco for over 100 years”, he said.
After two years of research and product development (1994 and 1995), the team had
to decide about the logistics of manufacturing WILSON. “At a time when there was
excess capacity at several US and overseas cigarette factories, it was more practical
and economical to make WILSON under a manufacturing contract”, Marguerite
Abdallah, ISSCORP’s Vice President, stated. A decision was made to make WILSON,
one consignment at a time, under manufacturing contracts with reliable cigarette makers
in the US and overseas.
Dr. Abdallah and his team worked diligently on the product development of WILSON as a
premium American blend cigarette (ABC) in three versions: Superior Flavor, Mellow Flavor
and Smooth Menthol. As a corporate policy, the term “Lights” was deleted and that
version was named Mellow Flavor. To meet the demands of smokers who like to have
an ABC cigarette with a good Virginia taste, WILSON Gold was developed in two versions:
Fine Virginia Taste and Mild Virginia Taste.
Marguerite worked with a prominent New York designer and art studio on creating the
design, logo and art work for WILSON and WILSON Gold’s’ pack and carton. The objective
was to design a pack that showed class. “After months of meticulous work, our team
was able to come up with an authentic, conceptually tasteful design with an
eye-appealing color scheme that has been complimented by a logo that reflects
heritage”, Marguerite stated. The design also allowed for all the regulatory information to
be printed carefully on each pack and carton, including the health warning, UPC,
name/address of the manufacturer, etc.
ISSCORP’s attorney communicated, for many months, with the US Patent & Trademark
Office (PTO) in Washington, DC, until PTO issued the certificate of registration of WILSON’s
name, logo and design as a trademark owned by ISSCORP(USA). PTO Certificate was
issued in October 1996 and renewed promptly to 2016.
Dr. Abdallah communicated with the Office of Smoking & Health at the Center for Disease
Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and registered the ingredients in WILSON. “From the
start, we decided to abide not only by all the current rules involving cigarette smoking
such as not allowing sales to the underage, but also by our own rules: 1) smoking is a
serious health hazard; 2) there is no safe cigarette; 3) the only safe way is not to
smoke; and 4) smoking is addictive and if a person chooses to smoke, he or she
should do so moderately and responsibly”, he stated.
Marguerite explained that discount cigarettes, for some time, represented a good idea but
the idea was copied and there was an overkill. Later, there was a shift among smokers
towards economy brands but, today, the market for both discount and economy is flooded
with generic and sub-generic brands, even some without any registered trademarks that
are made in many countries from Brazil and Mexico to China and Indonesia. “We made the
right decision when we agreed to spend money, time and effort in developing WILSON
as a premium brand and we now believe that it was a good investment”, she explained.
ISSCORP planned to market WILSON in the US, however, after the master settlement
agreement (MSA) and the need to be a subsequent participating member to sell cigarettes
on a long-term basis, a decision was made to locate a cigarette manufacturer who meets
the MSA requirement.
“We did what we are good at, which is developing a premium cigarette that is up to
international standard and selecting a name, logo and package design that reflects
authenticity, yet, is very cost effective”, Dr. Abdallah stated. ISSCORP is currently
negotiating the sales of WILSON in the USA with a leading cigarette manufacturer in South
America that is a subsequent member of MSA and has a sales and marketing organization
in the USA.
“We have been looking overseas for regional or international marketing firms with
the resources and experience in sales of high-value fast-moving merchandising
goods such as cigarettes”, Marguerite explained. “Our WILSON is a premium
cigarette that makes a statement and can stand on its own merit and it is also very
cost-effective, therefore allowing ISSCORP to offer generous sales programs that
provide better margins for the wholesalers, distributors and retailers”, she explained.
Dr. Abdallah concluded that ISSCORP is ready to appoint an organization with the
necessary distribution network and proven performance in cigarette sales to market
WILSON exclusively on a regional or territorial basis. At present, WILSON is being sold
in select countries in Asia and Africa through authorized distributors.