Friday, December 3, 2010

Smoke That Cigarette, Just Not On TV

Dinosaur warning: There are getting to be fewer and fewer of us who vividly remember cigarette commercials. I mentioned on the air tonight that some of my co-workers were discussing the different advertising strategies used to market the various brands. Some were shocked that once upon a time, people had been encouraged to give cartons of cigarettes as Christmas gifts.

I remember my own daughter, born several years after cigarette ads were banned from TV and radio, freaking out at the sight of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble sneaking out back for a smoke. So, strictly from a historical and sales perspective, here is a sampling of some TV cigarette commercials.

DISCLAIMER: It's not my intent to open a debate on smoking. As for me, I smoked for years. (I quit in 2000.) But I grew up on a family farm where we raised, among other things, tobacco. Everyone grew tobacco. All my family members and friends had a tobacco patch, except for those who lived in town. And when it came time to set tobacco, or to chop it and hang it in the barn, you can be sure they were called on to help.

As I said, this is not done to encourage smoking, nor to publicize the product. If you don't want to see cigarette ads, don't watch. As someone whose salary is financed through advertising, I'm simply making an historical note of a commercial genre which ceased to exist in America in 1971. If you want to scream about secondhand smoke, or smokers' rights, there are plenty of places to do so. This ain't one of 'em. My barn, my rules, so play nice or don't play. Thanks and blessings.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.


The classic "Show Us Your Lark" commercial. To this day, whenever I hear the William Tell Overture, my mind sings "Have a Lark, have a Lark, have a Lark today..."

Marlboro used the cowboy and the "Magnificent Seven" theme, but they also used sultry songstress Julie London.

The lucky smoker has Luckies under the tree.

More friends on your gift list? No problem, buy more cartons!

Even Santa got in on it

Please tell me how you smoke while WATER SKIING?

They must have been pretty bored in the 50's. They even had time to tear apart their cigarettes.

Tobacco companies had many different gimmicks to encourage sales. (Did you know that baseball cards were originally included in cigarettes, not candy?) Some brands even featured coupons redeemable for gifts.

In that era of television, in was common practice for the show's cast, usually in character, to appear in personalized commercials for the sponsor.

Here is a collection of customized spots from Winston cigarettes, which sponsored The Flintstones and The Beverly Hillbillies

The show open and close featuring the "brought to you by" sponsor identification, and the commercial where the boys duck out for a Winston.

Fred goes into the store to buy a pack.

Fred And Barney fix the record player, and have a smoke.

The Beverly Hillbillies are stil going strong, almost 50 years after they loaded up the truck and they moved to Bev-er-lee. In reruns, you never hear the last part of the theme song. You'll see why.

Mr. Drysdale shows Jed something new to him... A Winston filter cigarette.

Granny and Jed tell Cousin Pearl about their welcoming gifts, including cigarettes. Can Pearl really smoke through the phone?

While helping Jethro with his homework, Miss Jane learns something... about Winston.

On the cop show "Dragnet," Sgt. Joe Friday's catch phrase was "Just the facts, ma'am." And the fact is, they don't adversely affect your health. They said so on TV so it has to be true, right?"

Here's a curiosity. Chesterfield hired "professional smokers" to compare brands.

In the late sixties, as more became known of the connection between smoking and disease, health groups began to call for tighter controls on cigarettes. As the "ban cigarette ads" movement gained momentum, stations were required by law to air one anti-smoking ad for every three cigarette commercials.

Actor William Talman (District Attorney Hamilton Burger from "Perry Mason") was one of the first celebrities to record an anti-smoking ad. It's a powerful one.

This 1967 commercial from the American Heart Association emphasized the idea that kids imitate what they see their parents do.

Thanks for playing nice. If you came here from the WABX site, CLICK HERE to return to WABX.

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