Tobacco companies have been stripped bare when it comes to marketing. But it wasn’t always like that.
‘On no you didn’t’ is a perfectly fitting response to the brazen tactics used by the tobacco giants to flog their cancer-sticks in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Today the marketing rules around tobacco are so tight that the companies are forced to flog their wares without branding, retailers keep their cigarettes behind grey roller doors and advertising is non-existent. The areas where smokers can light up a ciggy are also rapidly shrinking with Victorian smokers set to be banned from smoking in alfresco dining areas.
But it wasn’t that long ago that doctors and cartoons were used to spruik cigarettes. We take a look back at some of the more outrageous, and downright ridiculous, tobacco ads from yesteryear.
Anyhow, have a Winfield
Paul Hogan lends his Aussie-twang to Winfield in this ad that has him in a get-up much swankier than his Crocodile Dundee threads.
When Winston sponsored The FlinTstones
In these two ads from 1961 Fred and Barney “take a Winston break” behind a rock while Wilma mows the lawn. In the second half Fred breaks into the Winston jingle while lighting Wilma a cigarette.
Tobacco and taste too fine to filter
The heading says everything that needs to be said about this 1960’s Lucky Strike commercial.
Harmonica and Horses
This Australian ad packs some humour into its minute-plus running time with a harmonica-playing horse rider who sucks the wrong end of his cigarette.
Remember what we said about doctors being used to sell cigarettes? Well here is a 1950s example from Camel.
Gifting someone a box of cigarettes at Christmas today would be as appropriate as giving them an ominously ticking box. But apparently in the 50s it was fine to wish your loved ones a “Merry Christmas and happy smoking, 200 times”.
Toons and ciggies
In the 1940s Kool Cigarettes used a cartoon of an ice-skating penguin to sell its cigarettes which were apparently “as cool and as clean as a breath of fresh air”.
This Marlboro man fell in love with the brand before he even lit up – it was the flip top box that won him over.
In the ’70s John Player Special targeted the wealthier side of town. We couldn’t help ourselves wishing the voice over had finished his “created by Players” sentence with “for players”. Created by Players for players. Gold!
…and a hint of in-time head swaying. That’s all the needs to be said to introduce this Viceroy commercial from the 70s.
Pipe smokers are a pensive lot according to this funny 30-second spot by Condor.
Don’t watch this Aussie spot from 1964 if you’re in a bad mood. Their cheesy smiles and games of peek-a-boo behind a bunch of balloons may result in an urge to smack your screen.