How do you advertise a deadly product and make it look fun and safe? You only need to look to the tobacco industry to answer that question. For decades their print ads have featured respectful looking and admired individuals, such as doctors, nurses and celebrities. Their radio and television advertising had catchy jingles and music that brought images of their product to mind. Even after over 40 years of television advertisements being off the air, a version of the Magnificent Seven theme song used in the Marlboro ads still conjures up images of the cowboy and his horse around a campfire from those of us who still remember. These days email and direct marketing advertising gets the message directly into the hands of tobacco users, but magazine advertising can still be found, and Trinkets and Trash tries to report on it all.
Tobacco ads certainly try to keep up with the times, like this picture of a cute couple enjoying a takeout drink and a selfie. Notice how healthy they look, how great their hair looks. Also notice that there isn’t one single cigarette or a pack of cigarettes anyplace in the picture besides the border the ad company added. This isn’t an ad about cigarettes, it’s an ad about having fun, and you don’t need a cigarette to have fun.
Tobacco advertisements these days also seem to want to be helpful in some way, like giving you hints on how to stay warmer now that the weather is cold (just move the furniture around, according to L&M). Notice that the Surgeon General’s warning, which is required to be on all print advertisements, blends into the upper part of the ad, making it almost unnoticed. Virginia Slims has traded in their long-legged models for recipes so you can “have it all this fall.” And logging into their site to get the recipes means they will have all your information to start sending you coupons.
American Spirit wants to show you they are concerned about the environment by sending you a “cigarette butt pouch” so you can send back your smoked butts in a prepaid pouch to be recycled into things like flower pots.
Babies and dogs make great ad copy and both Skoal and Red Seal smokeless tobacco ads feature dogs. Red Seal shows a man sitting in the back of his pick-up with a can of dip between him and his dog. Sort of gives you that subliminal message that the dip is your loyal friend and will always be by your side. And since hunting season is here, Grizzly has come out with camouflage cans, because no self-respecting hunter would be seen with anything else.
Tobacco advertising has changed from the past. You no longer have to show someone using the product or even show the product in the picture, as the case with Virginia Slims, to sell into the concept that you will suddenly be someone different by using their product. The ads attempt to lull you into thinking the tobacco industry cares about you or the environment. The print ads require a Surgeon General’s warning, but shouldn’t they be required to show the truth in their advertising as well? Then again, showing cancer, heart attacks and strokes from using tobacco products isn’t really good for business.
All the pictures used are from the October 2015 Trinkets & Trash Surveillance Update. Click HERE to read about other tobacco news from Trinkets & Trash