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What Does Advertising Really Sell Us?

Tobacco advertising was banned for a reason. Believe me, tobacco creatives knew exactly how to control our desires.) The mechanism of advertising and now works the same way, but it was tobacco needed to maintain a strict balance (because tobacco is harmful)) and at the same time successfully sell the product. Briefly about the manipulation of advertising, tobacco advertising, I will tell today.

In general, all advertising, not only tobacco advertising, is built on a simple property of human psychology – the ability to empathize, to associate with the event or person, even when the image personally does not apply to us. It is a useful property, once it helped the first people to survive in the wild world, now… Now it sometimes works against us)

Lucky Strike Cigarette Commercial, 1930

I will not dwell today on the first examples of advertising in the late 19th century – it was pretty primitive, as well as advertising in the first half of the 20th century – it was not particularly creative. Most tobacco advertising before World War II was based on association. Like, “If you want to be rich and famous, there’s a famous Hollywood star smoking Lucky Strike. Start small! Start smoking that particular brand. And so on and so forth.

Montclair cigarette commercial, 1965.

Things got a lot more interesting roughly speaking in the second half of the 20th century. The world was speeding up all the time and the approximate norm for manipulation in print advertising was about 2 seconds. That is, the image had to be constructed in such a way that even a fleeting glance built an associative chain with the desired result. At the same time these final equations were not amenable to critical thinking, but as they worked on a subconscious level the result was.

Parliament cigarette commercials, 1969

And, yes, the sophistication and creativity of advertising has increased, but it was still the same game of association)) For example, the theme of cleanliness, freshness, in a way, safety worked beautifully. Don’t forget, when similar commercials were placed a different manipulation was publicly stated: tobacco use = cancer.

Salem cigarette commercials, 1971

How can cigarettes be advertised as a safe product? It’s simple. The backgrounds are drawn from nature, a forest or the water plane, and the design of the pack itself is a combination of green, white or light blue. When “light” cigarettes were introduced it was not for nothing that they chose blue and white colors as a marker, they subconsciously evoke a feeling of safety.

Salem cigarette ads, 1966

It’s about the same with cleanliness, the markers of manipulation are the same. By the way, an interesting fact is that never, in the history of tobacco advertising, has an ashtray been involved in the image presented. Very rarely empty, but never with cigarette butts.

Camel Cigarette Advertisement, 1937

Not only that, but there were advertising campaigns when smoking was portrayed as not just a safe process, but a useful one! For example Camel, until the 40’s, were advertised as digestion-improving cigarettes.) And almost until the late 50’s tobacco advertising itself was presented as beneficial. And this is an old technique first used since the turn of the century. For example, cigarette cards in a pack illustrating some useful tips, like how to stop bleeding, or how to fix a broken car leaf spring by your own efforts.

Camel cigarette advertisements, 1933.

Now all sorts of HEAs are accusing tobacco men of advertising tobacco to children, supposedly tobacco comics were invented for that purpose. Although, in fact, it’s nothing more than a simple information presentation, accessible to the average person of any intellectual level, plus it grabs their attention for a while. True, as cynical as it sounds right now, advertising aimed at non-adults has also had its place. What’s the use? Yes, the same as in the cards – at least funny story in the pictures, the maximum – the useful information ranging from the disclosure of tricks to the actual worldly advice.

Another manipulation that was actively used by tobacco creatives, the human tendency to dominance. Although we are now social creatures, some of the skills of the wild past are still in our subconscious.) Dominance was considered in different keys, but most often over a woman, moreover it is not always possible to understand why men always need to “win” a lady).

an ad for Camel cigarettes, 1971

Or, as an alternative, domination over one’s own kind. The same Camel was advertised in the 1970s in a rather peculiar way. The ad campaign claimed that everyone who doesn’t smoke these cigarettes is almost a retard! It wasn’t very creative or honest, but it worked fine)

The manipulation of “object of envy” had its own niche and was most often used in advertising for cigars or pipe tobacco. It is the same dominance, but not as pronounced. On the whole, though, it’s all the same desire for superiority over one’s own kind.)

State Express 555 Cigarette Commercial, 1978

Notice this ad. A man in a tuxedo offers to smoke a very inexpensive State Express 555 cigarette… You are the chosen one! You have been recognized in high society! That’s it, the equation “smoking = cancer” isn’t important to you anymore) Yes, we are very fond of flattery and creative advertising takes advantage of that.

Marlboro Cigarette Commercial, 1975

The Marlboro Men and Camel campaigns worked on the association with the image presented. Many would like to see themselves as a strong cowboy or a bold mustachioed Camel, but not many were.) Buying a pack of Camel or Marlboro seems a simpler solution.)

Benson & Hedges cigarette ads, 1973

Another manipulation is to give the process of smoking some flavor of frivolity by voluntarily teasing your own brand. A very subtle and careful manipulation that Benson & Hedges used for almost 20 years. And, yes, it worked very well, with a certain danger that the consumer will turn away from the brand being made fun of. But the images for the Benson & Hedges campaign were chosen extremely carefully, taking into account other tricks of manipulation.

Drum tobacco commercials

But the best thing that worked, and still works today, was the “romantic content” theme.) This theme can sell anything! And in tobacco advertising, it worked almost constantly… But about this manipulation and related to it I’ll tell you in the next article.