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Zippo Fusion

October 17, 2003—A few years ago, the Zippo company was approached by Jeremy Stephan ’93, who authorized all appearances and uses of the Hollywood sign. He suggested to Zippo’s advertising division that the sign be used in packaging and marketing promotions.

Zippo Hot Tour

Zippo, a conservative company that traditionally spent little money on promotions, relied on the rise of cigarette smoking from the ’40s through the ’70s to spur the tremendous growth in sales of lighters. The recent decline in smoking meant a drop in lighter sales, too. The resulting Hollywood collectible program turned out to be, at that time, the most successful collectible program that Zippo had ever released.


Jeremy Stephan with Zippo tricksters at a club in Knoxvile, Tenn.

Shortly after this, Stephan pitched the idea of his company, FUSE, becoming the licensing company for the Zippo brand. During one of the meetings, he met Greg Booth and discovered they both graduated from IUP. “I’m not sure how it happened,” said Stephan. “I think he was making fun of my tie.” The serendipitous meeting foreshadowed the Zippo/FUSE partnership, and the Zippo name began appearing on new designs of barbeque grills, heat lamps, and other products associated with flame and heat.

FUSE recently worked with Zippo to create the Zippo Hot Tour, bringing bands together in Fall, 2003, for a six-week, thirty-six-event tour across the U.S. Plans are in the works to expand the tour through Japan and China. (Some of the bands performing in the Hot Tour are also traveling with OzFest).

The two companies have worked with some big names to help sponsor the events, like Playboy, Philip Morris, and Jim Beam. “There’s much antismoking sentiment in this country,” said Booth. “But there are still people who smoke and who are interested in cigarette lighters, and that’s really what we’re about. So we partner with Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, and Marlboro, and have talked with Harley Davidson and Jack Daniels about sponsorship, too, because we do a lot of licensing with them.”

“Zippo’s not just a brand that’s sold here in the U.S.,” said Stephan. “It’s one of the most recognized brands, along with Coca-Cola, in the world. Greg and I found that these opportunities were solutions to what we were trying to do, which ultimately evolved into a promotion agency relationship.”

Read more about Jeremy Stephan in Web Exclusives.