When London-based entrepreneur BJ Cunningham launched DEATH™ Cigarettes 30 years ago , covered with health warnings and emblazoned with the universal symbol of poison and disease, it stood for “The Truth” in a market riddled with fear, hypocrisy and lies. The message was simple:
Smoking kills. Given that information, if you choose to smoke, it’s your funeral.
DEATH™ was a protest; a phenomenal brand success and a vainglorious business failure. Attacked by the traditional Tobacco industry, Government and the Anti-Smoking Lobby, DEATH™ ultimately died in a titanic battle in the European Court of Justice, facing off every Member State and every major Tobacco Company. It was Death and Glory, Don Quixote, David against Goliath and all his mates. DEATH™ kept its ‘money back guarantee’ promise to itself:
Too Bad You’re Gonna Die.
During its tenure as the world’s most infamous smoke, DEATH™ defiantly burned brightly, with DEATH™ paraphernalia finding its way onto the backs of the most influential artists across the globe; the mavericks, the outsiders, the rebels, the activists, the game-changers, the catalysts, the mischievous, the exceptional and the brave.
In what is arguably the most iconic photograph of hip-hop-history, the two greatest artists of their generation meet for the first time; Tupac and Biggie Smalls stand in harmony side-by-side, with Tupac ominously wearing a black short-sleeve DEATH™ T-shirt. What followed cemented this photograph into cultural history; a constant reminder that DEATH™ comes to us all.