Smoking Ads - Then & Now

I don't smoke anymore.  Sure I've had a puff or two, but my serious smoking days are over.  I quit cold-turkey.  Dropped the habit in an instant and never went back.

And this was before the shift in emphasis from "relax with a smoke" to "smoking will kill you."

The advertising trends in smoking are, to me at least, absolutely hilarious.  What started as a huge promotional campaign to help get people addicted to a product is now going rapidly extinct.

My initial idea was to find examples of vintage cigarette ads, then compare the new ad campaigns with the idea of showing how current trends (and technology) have shifted focus.

It was a good idea-but not entirely possible.  Philip Morris has accomplished the impossible: Rally the media against their own product while still spending tons of money marketing that very same product.

But the ads have taken a different turn.  Print, TV, and other media have given way to more subtle advertising methods.

Let's take Camel, for example.  The primary reason I'm picking this brand is because they still actively promote their product.  When it comes to advertising, they're sort'a the McDonald's of cigarettes.

Camel Cigarettes, 1937- This is what I think Hell looks like...Camel Cigarettes, 1937- This is what I think Hell looks like...

Oh, yeah.  Nothing helps me digest more than a stick full of carcinogens.  And check out the picture.  It's like the guy is burning books Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 style.  To me the ad says, "Welcome to Hell.  Have a smoke."

Then there's this one:

Camel Cigarettes, 1946Camel Cigarettes, 1946

Yeah, that's a doc I'll go to.  He'd deliver the baby, all the while tapping ashes on the floor.  No thanks.

While those ads show the innocence of each era, they kind of creep me out.  Each ad has a success story about the proud, hardworking individual who enjoys a nice, smooth Camel.

These ads openly address the process of smoking, the idea that smoking is cool, and the "benefits" of smoking.

Compare that notion to the new batch of Camel ads:

 Camel Cigarette Ads, 2009Camel Cigarette Ads, 2009

Do you see a cigarette anywhere in any of the ads above?  Is there anything telling you how great it is to smoke a cigarette-or how smoking aids in digestion?


These ads count on brand/logo recognition.  And instead of saying how great cigarettes are, they bare a slogan that cannot in anyway be considered a positive selling point:

Tobacco Seriously Damages Health

Um... Could someone tell me how this works as a successful ad campaign, because just trying to figure it out gives me a headache.

And that mentality seems to be crossing the entire realm of advertising for cigarettes.  Let's take Marlboro for example:

This guy likes Marlboro so much that he tattooed the logo on his hand.This guy likes Marlboro so much that he tattooed the logo on his hand.

 Marlboro took smoking in a new, manly direction, culminating in one of the most famous ad campaigns ever.

Ahhhh... Flavor Country.Ahhhh... Flavor Country.

Most of us remember this guy.  Tough.  Manly.  Smoker.
The Marlboro Man campaign was so popular that it is still emulated today.

Burger King.  And yep.  That's a fry.Burger King. And yep. That's a fry. 

Here's Marlboro's current campaign:

That's right.  I couldn't find anything.  Nothing.  I'm not saying that there's nothing out there.  I'm just saying that after some digging, the most I came up with was this:

 Zoom!  *cough, cough*Zoom! *cough, cough*

Marlboro gets its ads out there via sporting event sponsorship.  Gone is the Marlboro man image.  Now we have the smoking race car drivers.

Most other cigarette brands have gone this route, making it difficult to find any current advertising (at least here in the US).  But cigarette accessories are doing quite well in the ad department.

Let's take a look at Zippo:

Zippo Ad, 1968Zippo Ad, 1968

I'll give ‘em credit.  Zippo's last forever and this ad knows it.

Zippo, 1960Zippo, 1960

Another testament to Zippo's toughness.  Gotta wonder if the fish puffed down a few Camels before he was caught...

Check out Zippo's current advertising:

Zippo, 2009Zippo, 2009

I don't see the lighter.  I don't see any example of how durable a Zippo is.  I don't even see a fish.  What I do see is a big, flashy "look at me!" swirl with a tiny little logo in the corner.

Other than catching the eye for a miniscule portion of a moment, this ad does nothing.  Sure, it's pretty... but I've done the same thing with my Wii lightsabers:

If you've made it this far, thanks.  I really couldn't deliver what I initially intended, simply because the current opinion of smoking has changed.  I do hope that I've enlightened a few of you and provided a chuckle or two.

Now, if you'll excuse me... I'm going to digest.

Really... no cigarettes involved.  I just ate a ton of pizza.

SOURCES: Wikipedia, Ads of the World, Ad Classix