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Muhammad Ali was a world champion African American boxer.
A 1981 telephone survey of over 1,200 African Americans inquiring about their brand preferences for food and cigarettes in the U.S. conducted by Booke & Company Public Relations Counsel concluded that 35% of the respondents said they smoked cigarettes. Most said they smoked mentholated cigarettes. The study showed that 49% of African American consumers are more likely to purchase a product if it is advertised by a black person than a white person. Black sports figures were the most favored for representing brands, with O.J. Simpson leading the survey, followed by Muhammad Ali.
Because of the attraction of African American consumers for black sports celebrities, Muhammad Ali's name is mentioned in tobacco industry marketing documents in conjunction with ideas for possible cigarette promotions. One example is an R.J. Reynolds marketing proposal titled CAMEL Project Big Idea Concept Development. The proposal puts forth ideas for marketing CAMEL cigarettes, including creating a "Camelcade" of sports featuring "numerous exciting, unique and funny sports situations." Ideas listed include "Babe Ruth Joe," "Joe Namath Joe" and "Muhammad Ali Joe."
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