History of Tobacco Advertising

History of Tobacco Advertising - Chinmaya 1 Nikhil Chinmaya...

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Chinmaya 1 Nikhil Chinmaya Professor Hornberger English 110 25 March 2008 Tobacco Advertising impact on American Culture in the 20 th Century Jack Solomon began his essay by stating, “To analyze an ad, then is to analyze the culture in which it appears”. To many people advertisements are a way of selling a particular product and that is where an advertisements influence ends. Nevertheless, to the larger advertising companies an advertisement is much more than just selling a product, “Advertising campaigns come and go, as do the products they promote but what does not change so quickly are the cultural patterns that advertisers rely on to work their image” (Solomon, 160). This is the primary focus of my essay to show how tobacco advertising has changed American culture in the last half of the 20 th century, and how it continues to shape present day America. Tobacco advertising was ultimately banned, when the United States Congress passed the Public Health Cigarettes Smoking Act, which effectively banned tobacco advertising on January 2, 1971. After I began my research, I found a commercial that aired on national television during 1964. The commercial begins with a wealthy man opening a pack of Muriel cigars and begins smoking a cigar with great satisfaction, and the advertisement shows another man finding the same pleasure after smoking a Muriel cigar. This continues as we see more men doing the same thing and finding great pleasure in smoking cigars, and finally we see a woman next to a man who is smoking a Muriel cigar and has an almost orgasmic reaction when man begins smoking a Muriel cigar. This type of commercial can be seen in Solomon’s writing as well when he states, “ By showing flesh, advertisers work on the deepest, most coercive human emotions of all. Much
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Chinmaya 2 sexual coercion in advertising… that clients are getting their money’s worth” (Solomon, 166). This very subtle focus towards the ultimate goal of sex drives many consumers to buy more men to buy cigarettes in the 1960s causing a vicious cycle where men continued to smoke and this influence later generations to continue the tradition. However, if we examine this commercial closer we can see that there is something more subtle going on, where in the background of cigar smoking we can see rich furniture, and other material objects indicating material wealth, and this gives the advertisement watcher the impression that if you smoke a Muriel cigar you will become rich. We can also see an clear association where the consumer might feel that smoking a Muriel cigar makes one refine and fee that they are rich and of a higher societal status. After seeing this commercial and the historical time it was aired, we can see that it would have had significant influence over many young men. Commercials such as the one mentioned above caused a steady increase in the number of young smokers, because tobacco companies primarily portrayed young men and women in the advertisements, forcing young men to buy Muriel cigars to conform with society’s expectations or be left out of the crowd.
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