You get free shipping

What is advertising really selling us? Part 2

So, today, as promised, I will continue the topic of tobacco advertising. More precisely, the part of it that manipulates us using the most ancient human instinct.

The desire to reproduce is embedded in each of us at the genetic level and the triggers are hidden deep in the subconscious. Mankind knows this, but it does not help to resist manipulation in any way. Or rather it helps, but only if you perceive the incoming information consciously. But advertising, and not only tobacco advertising, is designed just for a fleeting glance, with a “coded” message to the subconscious.

By and large, all advertising has one goal – to create a conditionally reflexive connection between the proposed image and a certain product or brand. Yes, yes, in this sense we are not much different from Pavlov’s dogs) Especially if such a strong theme as attraction to the opposite sex is used. Even now there are a lot of ads where all these triggers are considered almost mandatory, but with tobacco ads of the past it wasn’t quite like that.

Firstly, advertising with explicitly sexual overtones was considered quite a risky topic, because it is very easy to “fall” to the level of banal vulgarity and then the advertising campaign will not increase sales, but on the contrary will turn against the brand. Secondly, linking this trigger to tobacco was no less risky, because at the time of the peak of the development of advertising products it was already publicly stated about its danger to health. It was not like advertising diapers and soap, a very subtle approach was required.

A simple example of creating a conditioned-reflex connection can be seen in this advertising poster. And listen to yourself, what feelings does this image evoke in you? Against the background of this blonde, a pack of North State is not so noticeable) But as soon as the advertisement is familiar to you, they say it is enough to see it twenty times, and the connection will be established. You will not notice how you will start to associate North State cigarettes with pleasure and positive emotions in general. At the same time you will probably forget the advertisement itself by that time, but the connection will remain at the subconscious level.

Another method of such manipulation, shock advertising, was used in the tobacco industry very rarely and rather in the 2000s. It is an effective technique, but very risky. Images of quite frankly naked girls in tobacco advertising tried not to use, rightly fearing to be rejected by the target audience. However, the method of half hints was widely used, especially since the 1970s and almost until the ban on tobacco advertising anywhere.

This trigger can be practiced either in the text, in the image itself, or even together. This kind of advertising has proven to be very effective. First, it is not shocking. Secondly, it attracts attention. And thirdly, since it does not use very straightforward images, it involves the thought process of speculating the situation in the consumer.

In general, it was quite easy to advertise cigarettes, cigarillos or cigars by the half hint method. Why? And here we have another association – an almost perfect phallic symbol. Yes, yes, hello to Grandpa Freud) However, such manipulations should have been practiced only when the product was accurately positioned on the target audience. By the way, the same theme tried to reproduce anti-tobacco, but they got exactly vulgar advertising. Would you agree that these posters are used more elegantly?

And it is not superfluous to mention that there was (and still is) gender-based advertising. Yes, conditionally all tobacco products are universal and almost equally suitable for both men and women. But when a manufacturer is “catering” to a specific audience, it is very noticeable in advertising. Above are two advertising posters, if we abstract from the brand, can you tell where there is female advertising and where there is male advertising?

Psychologists have proven that women and men perceive advertising information differently, at least printed information. So men almost never read the text, especially if it is more than just an advertising slogan. Men enough bright image, especially if it is erotic in nature)))) And women, on the contrary, the eroticism of the image is not so important and they easily “digest” and assimilate even large blocks of text.

By the way, the method of half hints used one very effective image, often carefully camouflaged by the situation, but read by the subconscious mind unmistakably. This is the “face of orgasm.” It’s not my idea, it’s the official term of marketers. What does it look like? A human face, with a joyful emotion) Expressively open mouth, wide-open or on the contrary closed eyes, well, like on this poster. Consciousness tells us that there is no sexual connotation here, but the subconscious has a different opinion).

In general, Newport, for almost two decades, had the most successful advertising campaign using many triggers of erotic subtext. Success was considered to be the rise in sales of the brand, which is the most objective assessment. I offer you some of them in this gallery. But how “non-transparent” and how effective they are – try to assess for yourself.

A previous post on manipulation techniques in tobacco advertising can be read here: