Selling Smoke: Tobacco Advertising and Anti-Smoking Campaigns

Celebrities and "Ordinary" People Sell Smoke

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, stars of "I Love Lucy" promote Philip Morris cigarettes, 1952.  Philip Morris was the original sponsor of the "I Love Lucy" show, and Ball and Arnaz were lifelong smokers.

The testimonial is one of the oldest forms of advertising.  Most early tobacco featured elegant upper class men and women smoking.  By the 1930s, tobacco companies paid celebrities, especially film stars, to promote their brands.  In 1964, tobacco companies were banned from using celebrity testimonials for their products.

Later advertisements tried to show more ordinary people smoking.  Some of the advertisements paired celebrities with ordinary people to suggest that you can smoke the same cigarette as your favorite movie star or sports hero.  The people featured in cigarette ads were far from truly ordinary as almost all of the men and all of the women were young, slim, attractive, and having a good time.

Bob Hope promotes Chesterfield cigarettes as part of the "ABC" campaign, 1949.

"High-society" women helped to market Camels in 1938.

Comic strip and Camel advertisement from the popular 1950s television show The Phil Silvers Show.