Published on October 3, 2007
Cigarette Ads Through the Years:How Tobacco Companies Reflect and Reshape Societyby Flora M. Brown, Ph.D.: Cigarette Ads Through the Years: How Tobacco Companies Reflect and Reshape Society by Flora M. Brown, Ph.D. Unit Question: What messages do American product ads send to society?This presentation will compare, contrast, and critique print, radio, and magazine cigarette ads from before and after 1950.: Unit Question: What messages do American product ads send to society? This presentation will compare, contrast, and critique print, radio, and magazine cigarette ads from before and after 1950. What is the brief history of cigarette ads? What implied messages do cigarette ads convey in words, visuals and special effects? How do tobacco companies get their messages to us? What manipulative devices are used to persuade us? How has society responded to these messages over the years? A Brief Smoky History of Cigarettes: A Brief Smoky History of Cigarettes 6000 BC First grown in the Americas 1000 BC Possibly Mayans were first to smoke and chew it 1600 Production well established in New World. Although His Holiness Pope Clement VIII threatened anyone who smoked in a holy place with excommunication, smoking became popular with Europeans 1856 First cigarette factory opened in U.S. 1858 Fears about effects of tobacco on health raised in The Lancet 1964 U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry announces that smoking causes lung cancer 1965 Warnings go on cigarette packages 1971 Government bans broadcast cigarette ads 1988 U.S. Surgeon General says nicotine is an addictive drug. 2003 New York City bans smoking in all public places Click here to see why Slide4: Cigarette ads before the 1900’s were considered in poor taste. But that was when they were still being hand-rolled. Once they began to be mass produced, Wm. S. Kimball company began to place ads to go after a growing literate market. Here is one of their early ads from 1800’s. Claim: These cigarettes are handmade from the finest leaves. And the company has won 14 prize medals. Message: Smoke these cigarettes for refined taste. Critique: Did you notice the grand folks riding in a carriage on the upper right and the cherub in the upper left? Although women weren’t the initial target audience, they are pictured here in the lower left to round out of the picture of the desirable, luxurious and heavenly things we all want. Slide5: Even though fears about the dangers of smoking were raised as early as 1858, companies ran ads with positive and sometimes downright deceptive claims and messages through the 70’s. 66% of adult males under 40 smoked according to a 1939 Fortune Magazine. Claim: Cigarette tobacco tastes good and gives pleasure. Message: Smoking will calm your nerves and soothe your disposition. A young Maureen O’Hara smokes our cigarettes and is still beautiful. Critique: The use of the term “psychological fact” implies that the calming effect of Camels has been proven. Slide6: Recognize this guy? Before he was an actor, a governor and a president, he was a radio sportscaster at WHO in Des Moines, Iowa. Even though he didn’t really smoke he posed for this publicity shot for Kentucky Club Pipe Tobacco and Kentucky Winners Cigarettes. The postcards pictured here were sent to anyone who wrote him at WHO. Well. . . did you guess who he is? Claim: Chesterfield cigarettes are Ronald Reagan’s favorite because they’re mild Message: Ronald Reagan smokes. A handsome celebrity chooses Chesterfield, so it must be the best. Critique: Hosts were often used to endorse products because it was cheaper than hiring someone else. But how deceptive can you be than to get a nonsmoker pretend he’s smoking? Of course now it’s common practice. Virginia Slims broke from the competition by riding the wave of feminism to create a cigarette marketed to women. : Virginia Slims broke from the competition by riding the wave of feminism to create a cigarette marketed to women. Claim: The note card pictured here was originally part of a set of humorous cards free with the purchase of Virginia Slims cigarettes. When this set of cards was issued in 1981, the Virginia Slims advertising campaign was so well known that it wasn't necessary to have either the brand name or a picture of the pack on the ad. Message: Virginia Slims understands the feminist perspective and can even laugh with women at the old antiquated roles. Critique: Virginia Slims appealed to women’s need to be understood and valued. They even produced a slimmer and longer product--never mind that there were fewer in the package. And that slogan: You’ve come a long Baby!” Who wouldn’t love a cigarette that celebrated your freedom from the old ways? Slide8: One popular slogan for "Chesterfield" cigarettes was "They Do Satisfy." In 1917, World War I started. Cigarette companies used pictures of soldiers smoking cigarettes in their advertising. Many people viewed soldiers as heroes. When they saw the soldiers smoking, they started smoking too. Claim: This ad for Chesterfield’s even promotes it as the perfect Christmas gift. Message: Santa endorses Chesterfield. These cigarettes will put a smile in your smoking. They make your holiday shopping so convenient since they’re wrapped and ready to go. Critique: Using a smoking Santa to sell these cigarettes will appeal to children no matter what the company says. Next to the Marlboro man, Santa is one of the most recognizable icons in advertising. Slide9: This is one of the most recognizable ads in advertising history. Claim: A strong, virile, masculine cowboy smokes Marlboro and roams the range all day. Message: Smoking Marlboro will help me be self-reliant, independent and free from authority. I’ll be one of the cool people in Marlboro Country, where there’s not even a need for a sheriff. This is the “Mild Mild West.” Critique: The white hat confirms that he is the good guy and the red shirt stresses power. The eventual irony, of course, is that the Marlboro man contracted cancer. After broadcast cigarette ads were banned, tobacco companies used the money they were no longer spending on broadcast ads to develop new tactics.: After broadcast cigarette ads were banned, tobacco companies used the money they were no longer spending on broadcast ads to develop new tactics. Product placement in movies Many companies Sponsor sport and other events Virginia Slims Tennis Tour Winston Race Cup Promote new musicians No Man Music—Virginia Slims Slide11: In product placement tobacco companies pay producers to use their product as part of the props in a movie. The name of the product must be prominent, of course. Claim: Julia Roberts is smoking our cigarettes. Message: Julia is a smoker and prefers our brand over all others. She’s one of the beautiful people and we can be like her if we smoke this brand. Critique: Now we’re being manipulated in the most dangerous way of all. We know that Julia doesn’t smoke this brand; perhaps she doesn’t smoke at all. But the mere fact that we’ve seen this brand in her hands will now place a subsconscious preference in our minds. Product placement pays well.: Product placement pays well. Soon the government clears the air about lies in cigarette advertising: Soon the government clears the air about lies in cigarette advertising When tobacco companies realized that women weren’t smoking as much as men, women started appearing in cigarette ads. One famous ad for Lucky Strike cigarettes read, "I light a Lucky and go light on the sweets. That's how I keep in shape and always look peppy." Cigarette companies told women that they would not gain weight if they smoke their cigarettes. "Not a Single Case of Throat Irritation Due to Smoking Camels.“ The Federal Trade Commission stopped untrue ads like this one. Instead, tobacco companies came out with filtered cigarettes. Slide14: Radio ads with celebrities endorsing cigarettes were common Click here and scroll down to hear how a company used World War II to promote their products in a 1943 radio ad Cigarette ads that were entertaining were also common In the days of radio, tobacco companies found that jingles helped sell their cigarettes adding a fun element. Try listening to the jingle at the top of this page without tapping your feet. http://www.wclynx.com/burntofferings/adswinston.html Tobacco companies were clever. There was the Winston jingle: "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should. Winston tastes good like a SNAP! SNAP! cigarette should." Even though they offended a few with this blatant usage error, it made them wildly popular. But at least they were telling the truth. They cigarettes did taste horrible like we expect a cigarette to taste. Conclusions: Conclusions Using a variety of techniques such as testimonials, hyperbole, flattery, nostalgia and many logical fallacies, cigarette ads send a wide number of messages to us. Some of these messages try to convince us that by smoking their products we will experience happiness, social acceptance, sophistication, romance and freedom from rules and restrictions. As laws and social favor has turned on them, tobacco companies have found clever ways to still make their companies profitable. Even strategies like helping in the anti-smoking campaign or suing movie producers for placing their products without their permission have still resulted in profits for cigarette manufacturers. Wherever tobacco company names are seen, they are influencing all of us, especially our most vulnerable: our children. Continued efforts are needed by citizen and government groups to counteract the strategies and tactics employed by tobacco companies. References: References History of smoking. (n.d.). retrieved Jan. 08, 2005, from http://www.forestonline.org/output/page34.asp. (n.d.). retrieved Jan. 08, 2005, from Tobacco Ads Web site: http://medialit.med.sc.edu/smoking.htm. O'Connell, V. (2004, June 14).Tobacco makers want cigarettes cut from film. The Wall Street Journal, pp. . Reilly, P. M. (1997, January 15).Virginia slims gets its own record label. Wall Street Journal, pp. . Schoolcraft, H. (n.d.). Schoolcraft on the origin of tobacco. retrieved Jan. 08, 2005, from http://www.tobacco.org/History/sacred.html.