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Interview with Jon Huber: Director of Lifestyle Marketing for C.A.O. International Inc.

Interview with Jon Huber: Director of Lifestyle Marketing for C.A.O. International Inc.

Just like on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, we'll start off with  an easy question.

What is your favorite CAO cigar, and why?

The “marketing guy” in me would say, the one that sells!The “cigar lover” in me would

say that it all depends upon my mood. I would say that my rotation almost always

includes CAO Brazilia Box-Press, CAO Criollo Mancha, and the occasional Vision

Prana (when theyre available). For the past 2 or 3 months, however, just about the only

CAO product Ive been smoking are prototype “ligas” (blends) for our new upcoming

release.

Which Label would you recommend to a CAO first-timer?

That would depend on whether the CAO first-timer was new to cigars or not. For a

novice smoker, you cant go wrong with a CAO Gold. Its mild to medium-bodied, with

tons of creamy notes and subtle spice. For a seasoned cigar smoker, Id point them

straight to the CAO Brazilia. Its full-bodied, has a ton of pepper, leather and spice, and

is very consistent stick-to-stick.

In your opinion what is one of the most important pieces of cigar etiquette?

Dont be judgmental towards what others are smoking and enjoying. Nothing upsets me

more than reading the comments posted on some of these online forums by selfappointed

cigar “authorities” who blast brands that they dont smoke or care for. To each

their own, right? There really is such a schoolyard mentalityon some of these cigar

forums—one guy takes a jab at someone for posting something they may not agree with

and then—BAM—everyone piles on. Grow up.

Sigmund Freud found that smoking cigars intensified his focus and helped his

efficiency. Tim Ozgener said "Defying laws of space and time, with a single puff,

one man can escape to many worlds from anywhere he happens to be. What's

your smoking experience like and what is your escape?

My cigar smoking experienceis probably a little less romantic and ethereal as those

you mentioned. Ninety-five percent of the time I smoke a cigar, its done right here in my

office. I never smoke at home and these days there arent very many places to smoke a

cigar in public anymore. My personal escapeis spending time with my son, Liam.

Theres nothing I enjoy more than going over to my parentshome with Liam and

spending the weekend just playing basketball, eating great food, and watching movies

at night together.

In the day of a member of the CAO family, what hobbies do you have outside of

"the office"?

The honest truth is that between CAO and spending time with my son, I dont really

have a lot of “free time.” I run and workout 4-5 times a week in the morning before work

(its like therapy for me) and when I do get some personal me time,I enjoy catching up

on movies (thank God for Netflix), I read a ton of magazines (Im a pop culture junkie—

everything from Rolling Stone to GQ to W to Inked, Antenna, Complex, you name it),

and I also enjoy painting (acrylics on canvas).

How do you see CAO relating to new generations of cigar enthusiasts in the

future?

Thats an interesting question. I think one would assume that when you say “new

generation” youre referring to an age-specific demographic, i.e., younger smokers. But

the way I interpret that question, a new generationcould be anyone who decides to get

into cigars—whether they be 25 or 55 years old. As we have a dozen different brands in

our CAO portfolio, I would hope that theres something here for everyone to enjoy—be

they new to cigars or not.

What are some of the most outrageous descriptions you've had a laugh at when

hearing or reading cigar reviews?

Hands down—“gun metal.” That was courtesy of Cigar Aficionado.

If Jon Huber was a cigar, where would he be grown, what type of wrapper, filler,

binder, blend, style and finish would he have?

He would probably be grown in Nicaragua with a spicy, sungrown Corojo wrapper.

Binder would be Ecuadorian (sturdy), and the filler would be an exotic combination of

tobaccos from Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and maybe some Italian or Peruvian

thrown in there for an extra something.The shape would have to be some sort of

perfecto—a traditional parejoshape would be just too…..”traditional.” The finish would

be long and satisfying as it would “stay with you” for a long time!

Throughout your travels with CAO, which was your most memorable and why?

I would have to say that would be a four-day visit to Nicaragua and Honduras in 2005

where we took our sales team, a photographer, and a video crew (we shot “Seed to

Soul” down there during that trip). The entire experience was such an eye-opener…

seeing the factory, the fields, the barns, with that kind of intense up-close-and-personal

scope is very humbling. Just when you think you may know a thing or two about cigars

and tobacco, you come home and realize that you know nothing. Also, the sense of

teamand camaraderie was just so thick—a complete bonding trip for everyone. So

many epic stories came out of that particular trip—most of which were fueled by copious

amounts of beer and rum!

For both the ladies and gentlemen alike, can we expect to see any additions to

the flavourettes in the near future? (And we don't mean plastic surgery)

Theres a good possibility that you may be seeing a new flavourettelater this year…but

I cant really go into any details right now (ask me after July).

Does CAO have any exciting plans for this year's "Big Smoke" in either New York

or Las Vegas?

We had a very good meeting here last week that could potentially involve something

very interesting with a major rock artist that could be directly tied into the Big Smoke Las

Vegas 2008.

With Brazilian, Colombian, Italian and Peruvian tobaccos Tim Ozgener and CAO

have come up with many unique and impressive variables. What other locations,

if any, is CAO planning on experimenting with and how do you see this affecting

the choices of other brands to expand their horizons?

I think that one of the qualities that make Tim Ozgener the visionary that he is is the fact

that he doesnt follow anyone elses lead. Often times he goes entirely contra to what

everyone else is advising him to do—“Dont use Brazilian tobacco….dont make a green

cigar box or band…” I like that he follows his heart and when he believes in something,

he sticks to his guns and sees it through. Theres a bit of a rebelin Tim that I can

completely relate to. You cant argue with his track record, either; CAO is the only brand

to have 10 different lines to have received 90ratings or better from Cigar Aficionado

and Cigar Insider. Hes also pretty good at keeping things close to the vest, so I couldnt

really tell you what other locations/regions hes thinking about incorporating for future

blends—you should probably interview him next!

What would you like to see in the future for CAO and its cross-promotional

marketing?

I would take a rock n roll tour bus, fill it with 12 Playboy Playmates, and pair each of

them with one of our brands: CAO Gold, CAO Maduro, CAO America, Vision,

Sopranos…etc. Then I would get sponsorships from a vodka company, a champagne

company, and a few wineries. Id hire a driver, jump on board, and take our time visiting
each and every retail tobacconist that sells CAO across the country.

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