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Not so long ago: Remembering classic cigarette ads January 5, 2013

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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Just before Christmas, Advertising Age posted a story about classic cigarette ads, especially one that ran during the holiday season in the 1950s. The Lucky Strike ad referenced in the article featured the company’s classic slogan, “It’s toasted.” Moreover, and perhaps more shockingly, the spokesperson told consumers, “Friends, here’s a wonderful Christmas gift for anyone who smokes, because it says ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Smoking.'” Imagine the time: a time when advertisers could link happiness to smoking. It seems so foreign to us now.

Why don’t we see such ads today? While cigarettes have long been advertised in the United States – dating back to 1789 – the industry faced a crackdown in the 1964 when the US Surgeon General released a report linking smoking to lung cancer, emphysema, and other diseases. What ensued were mandatory warning labels and bans on radio and television ads. While the tobacco industry bounced back with alternative marketing strategies, including the use of cartoon characters in print ads to target younger consumers, the story of Big Tobacco is one of increased regulation.

To see the Lucky Strike ad referenced above, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What’s ethically wrong with this Lucky Strike advertisement? Why would you not see something like this today?

2.  How are marketers more limited today than ever before? Are these limitations a good thing?

3.  Should tobacco ads continue to be banned? Why, or why not?

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