Cigarette Racing and AMG: Forging a Relationship
When you think about it at first, the long standing relationship between AMG and Cigarette Racing makes no sense. The famed offshore boat builder, based in the Miami Florida area for its whole existence, born in the hustle and bustle of early offshore racing in South Florida has very little in common with AMG, on the surface. Cigarette Racing is the hallmark of offshore boats in some ways and certainly one of the most storied brands in boating. So why would the most sophisticated German engine builder, turned car maker; now wholly owned by Daimler AG be interested in working with a marquee offshore performance boat maker? The answer is marketing and innovation.
First, let’s quickly look at how AMG started and understand why these types of relationships, that produce halo products, are important to brands. AMG - engine and production development ltd. (translated from German) started in 1967, just before Cigarette did, designing and testing race engines. AMG was actually a completely separate company that started offering kits and upgrades to stock Mercedes Benz vehicles. Two former Mercedes engineers started it, so naturally, they focused on Mercedes vehicles. As AMG grew from a small shop in Germany to desirable tuning products from engine modifications to wheels and styling kits, Mercedes took notice and slowly started acquiring the company after realizing the benefits of having an “outside” engineering department focused on performance.
Halo products and innovation are keys to marketing a brand. Products lead sales, you want your products to be not only innovative but to actually project meaning; with the idea being that you create such a strong desire for a product you don’t rely on a traditional sales process. It’s how some products are sold out before they are even available; customers pine for something based on emotion and status. From Apple, Tesla, Ducati, AMG and Cigarette, the customer isn’t motivated by utility, but after the elusive feeling of having the most desirable product.
Since Skip Braver purchased Cigarette in 2002, he brought a new sense of business savvy to a company that had not been run like a real business in a long time. New boat designs, winning awards and building boats that were outside the niche of simply offshore performance boats, like the 2006 39’ Top Fish, were the ingredients of a new path forward. Braver seemed to have a keen sense of branding. The image Cigarette Racing owned was that of status, quality and it was a premier brand beyond boats. Instead of resting on the laurels of the past, Braver innovated. He built an amazing manufacturing facility in Opa-Locka Fl, with almost all production brought in-house, the team started to move away from racing and focus on the luxury high performance market. Sales at that level is all about relationships and Braver and his team have done an excellent job of cultivating them all over the world.
A display showcasing the materials, like carbon fiber and kevlar, that go into a Cigarette hull, design and materials are just part of what makes the brand special.
And this is where AMG and Cigarette meet. In 2010, the AMG SLS, which is the first car designed entirely by AMG, was launched and, with the new partnership, paired with an AMG themed 46’ Cigarette Rider. Many others followed, including an electric 38 Top Gun, sharing the SLS Electric drivetrain. Again, it doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface, but if you have a few stiff cocktails with the Miami sun beating down on you, and stare at one of the Cigarette AMG showpieces long enough, it starts to make perfect sense. It is two premier brands that understand their customers and know how to communicate with them. The products announce not only the current design prowess but the future of the brands. It’s a good relationship.
What better way then to introduce the new Cigarette Racing 515 - AMG Project One. The 51 and a half foot boat from Cigarette is the most innovative boat from Cigarette Racing, in both design and in materials. The wider 9’6” beam and all new multi-step hull design makes use of ultralight carbon fiber, with kevlar reinforced E-glass, creating probably the most advanced boat Cigarette Racing has ever made. With twin Mercury Racing 1550 horsepower engines capable of 140 MPH, it’s faster and lighter than the 50’ Marauder, one of their most popular models.
Of course, the AMG Project One car can’t be upstaged by much, it is a true hyper car, with 1,000 HP derived from F1 hybrid technology. It’s stunning in every way, much like the Cigarette 515. The AMG tagline is “Future of Driving Performance.” And Cigarette’s tagline is “The Cigarette Difference.” All I know is it is fun to watch these two companies collaborate, pushing the boundaries of performance and innovation, and these halo products lead the way.