It sure doesn't feel much like it here in the northeast, but according to my calendar it is actually the first day of spring 2014. Since opening my windows isn't an option yet, I can at least look at some vintage spring advertisements showing other people enjoying blue skies, crisp air, and green grass. Ah, and what better way to enjoy a fine spring morning than by inhaling a deep lungful of that rich, tobacco aroma only Chesterfield can offer! Hey, buy me a radio like that and I'll swoon too. After about the sixth beer this is pretty much what everything looks like to me too. Screw the Easter egg hunt, I want one of these beauties! Now this illustration can be viewed one of two ways. I choose to think the best.
It seems inconceivable now, but until about the mid-1960s it was quite common to see celebrities hawking cigarettes like it was no big deal. In fact, many radio, TV, and movie stars literally owed their livelihood to sponsorship from tobacco companies. Imagine seeing someone like George Clooney or Angelina Jolie smiling widely in cigarette ads exhorting you to pick up a carton of Marlboro. Weird, isn't it? Anyway, here's a gallery of 20 such ads from the 1930s through the early 1960s featuring movie and TV stars, as well as famous athletes, using their star power to get you to buy cigarettes and cigars. Most of these ads are courtesy the Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising site.
See, Ronald Reagan knew how to treat his friends during the holiday season. Turns out the Gipper was actually a smoker at one time, but supposedly gave it up after his older brother Neil developed cancer. (historical note - the reference to the Reagan film Hong Kong places this ad in 1952.)
What could possibly be more American than watching playoff baseball in October? Using baseball to hawk merchandise, that's what. Here's a collection featuring the great American pastime. And by that I mean baseball, not advertising. Maybe. I've seen some strange wallpaper choices in my day, but the "Ghost of Bill Dickey" collection has to be the strangest. And it sure as hell can't be good for your appetite. And are those cantaloupes in that bowl of Grape-Rocks? (Post Grape-Nuts Flakes, 1956) Apparently Jim Britt is something of a broadcasting legend in the New England area, so I can't really bag on him for pitching cigarettes. It's just a neat old ad, and certainly the type of thing you wouldn't see today even without all the advertising restrictions placed on tobacco
Yeah, I know that most of the old ads I post have to do with cigarettes. For some reason I have always been fascinated by cigarette advertising. I guess part of it is that these types of ads might have been some of the first to market a lifestyle as much as a product. I mean sure, they all talked about the "flavor" and even the reduced tar levels — ignoring the point that they had any tar at all — but what it really boiled down to was that these companies had to find a way to make a smoke inhalation device seem appealing. Watching them find ways to rise to the challenge has always interested me. Oreos pretty much sell themselves after all. Same with beer and cars. But flammable paper tubes that allow you to suck on hot smoke? Now that takes marketing acumen. Marlboro is of course synony