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Love at First Light: Romance in 1970s Cigarette Advertising

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romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

The key to good advertising is to invoke a subliminal association.  So, when you look at a cigarette advertisement and see a happy couple, your brain now associates cigarettes with romance, love, happiness, and sex.  Those bothersome associations of cancer and addiction are left in the dust, in favor of the messaging being pushed by the tobacco company.  It may sound sinister, but that’s basically the way all advertising operates – and it works like a champ.

So, turn off that rational center of your brain, and soak in the romantic splendor and unbridled happiness that is tobacco.  All You Need Is Love… and a Marlboro Light.

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

 

This is rare – you’ll almost never see an ashtray in cigarette advertising.  At times they’ll show an empty one, but never one with nasty butts in it.

 

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

It’s a carcinogen, will cause wrinkles and loss of taste and smell, and contains hydrogen cyanide… but, never mind all that – It’s SPRINGTIME!  Hey it’s a “natural” menthol; would these two nature-loving lovebirds be smoking if it wasn’t good for you?

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

Even the packages of L&M cigarettes feature romantic couples.

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

Man, chain-smoking Salems really allows me to live the dream: free vacations, Firebirds, color TVs and even a babe to share the magic.  Thank you Salem, for everything.

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

This scene looks like it’s about to turn into a porno any minute.  We better leave…

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

Speaking of subliminal associations – not only are they instilling a message of “love” and “romance”, but also steeping it in “nature” and “health”.  You’ll notice a lot of these cigarette ads are in the great outdoors.  Those tobacco marketers, they’re a sly bunch.

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

Of course, evoking images of love and romance in tobacco advertising wasn’t invented in the 1970s.  Lucky Strike had a long successful marketing campaign in the 1930s – (the famous “Christy Girl”; a dapper dame featured in the Lucky Strike illustrations by famous artist Howard Chandler Christy).

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

I don’t know if any tobacco company pushed the love angle more than L&M.  You may recall, in the 1970s Virginia Slims had the liberated woman angle, Marlboro had the cowboy angle, Benson & Hedges had the quirky humor angle, and Newport had the subliminal sex angle. The others, Salem, L&M, Viceroy, Raleigh and other minor brands pushed the “lovebird” angle.  (Not sure if Camel really had a focused angle in the 70s)

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

Lou and Joan tell it like it is.  They’ve read all about how bad smoking is for you, but dammit, they just like it too much to quit.  Lou even “got half a dozen” guys to start puffing on Vantage.

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

This one is from the 1980s… and  I don’t think you’re allowed to use a dictionary while playing Scrabble.  Maybe he’s just not that bright, and she lets him cheat.

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

romance-in-vintage-cigarette-advertising

  • Steve Mills

    L&M race car livery was some of the best around.