In June 1976 Philip Morris Europe mounted an extensive programme of product testing in an important European cigarette market for a new filter brand called "Merit". The Company intended to make use of the test results in Its launch advertising, this approach having worked extremely well in the brand's home market, the U.S.A. Thus the product preference results against competitive brands had to be impressive, but also the test itself had to be technically and legally irreproachable in case a competitor attacked the advertising in court. For this reason, the process by which cigarettes are usually "blinded" for testing was abandoned, and both Merit and leading competitive cigarettes were tested "open". Merit's performance was disappointing, due primarily, it was suspected, to existing competitive brand images biasing the results. The product was re-checked in a "blind" test and performed significantly better against the same competitors. A decision was taken to launch Merit early in 1977 and at the time of writing the cigarette appears to be a success. The contrasting test results offer convincing proof of the strength of brand image conditioning in this product category.