I’m thankful I never smoked. Being from the baby boomer generation, I worked around many people that did. Like others from my era, I’m a prime candidate for lung cancer. Secondhand smoke is a proven killer.
As a child I noticed cigarette commercials much the same as I did cereal advertisements. Some of them were quite entertaining and clever.
Benson & Hedges generally had pictures of men and women smoking their cigarettes with a broken or bent end. That’s because they wanted to tout the length of their product. I quickly assumed people smoking this brand were either blind or clumsy idiots.
Of course Virginia Slims attempted to make sexy a part of their ads. Beautiful young models puffing away I suppose was to lure in the female smoker. It worked just the opposite at times. A former co-worker smoked Virginia Slims. Something had evidently short-circuited upstairs. I often wondered what he wore under his shop coveralls.
Lucky Strike brand was popular going way back. Many of dad’s friends smoked them. Lucky Strike had a nifty little motto that was easy to remember: L.S.M.F.T. The abbreviation stands for: “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.” My friend Jeff has a whole different twist on the letters. He says L.S.M.F.T means: “Lucky Strike’s Make Funeral’s Thrive.”
Camel cigarettes claimed their customers would walk a mile for a pack of smokes. One ad shows a man with holes worn in his sneakers evidently from making the hike several times. Even in my teenage years, my immediate thought was perhaps the guy should stop buying cigarettes, and purchase a new pair of shoes.
Winston has been around for ages. My grandfather smoked them. Their theme was quite simple, “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should!” How bizarre! I could never conjure up the thought of cigarettes tasting good. Pizza tastes good including M&M’s and cherry licorice. It’s not like people having a pack of Winston’s in jacket pocket or purse would eat the things. Would they?
Tareyton. Their claim to fame was, “I’d rather fight than switch!” Colorful ads show male and female tobacco-addicts having blackened eyes. Evidently, someone needed to teach those poor smokers how to duck a punch.
Pall Mall is another popular brand. One of their advertisements shows a man lighting up a Pall Mall on the job. Evidently he’s finished for the day, because the blue collar worker has a tweed jacket over his shoulder. Most likely somewhere down the road, instead of needing a Pall Mall, he required a pallbearer.
Of course we all know about Marlboro and The Marlboro Man. These guys kept dying off so fast that Philip Morris Tobacco Company couldn’t keep an ample supply of actors. I wonder if The Marlboro Men got hazard pay?
“Come on up to Marlboro country!” was their infamous slogan. I never did figure out exactly where that was, other than perhaps they’re referring to Heaven. Something tells me there’ll be no smoking allowed up there.
Being a big fan of Hot Rod magazine, Viceroy advertised bunches in that periodical. One full-page ad pictures a handsome racecar driver in race attire, standing next to his sleek racecar. Striking a pose with lit cigarette held in gloved hand, two female admirers watch Mr. Macho from afar. I’m sure they were both thinking, “If only he didn’t smoke!”
Salem cigarettes were touted as being Springtime Fresh. Ad executives must not have been talking about springtime in cold weather states. In Alaska, we had two dogs that routinely did their business in the snow throughout winter. When spring arrived, and snow melted, fresh air was the furthest thing to be found. Then again, the pungent aroma associated with such did have similarities to stale cigarette smoke. Perhaps that’s the springtime fresh Salem officials were referring to?
I could go on and on here. Yes, I find humor in these ads. There’s also a sad side. I’ll end things on a serious note.
Several friends, family, and acquaintances of mine died from either direct, or indirect exposure to tobacco smoke. An addiction to nicotine is as bad as any drug out there. I’m sure several of the deceased people I knew wanted to stop smoking, yet couldn’t.
Maybe if cigarette commercials back then hadn’t been so well made, and persuasive, some of them would’ve never started!