Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smoke 'em If You Got 'em

During my thirteen years as Radio Curator at the Museum of Television & Radio in NYC (now the Paley Center for Media) I was able to listen to a lot of radio and watch a lot of television. I loved telling people that I got paid to listen to the radio. But I loved going through our archives and finding all sorts of odd and interesting things. The young among us may not realize it, but there actually was a time when it was legal to have cigarette commercials on TV and radio. And boy, there were some real interesting ones. I think you'll have fun with these.

First off, smoking wasn't always seen as harmful. And even if it was, why not lull the masses into thinking that smoking is actually GOOD for you!

If that doesn't work...why not find out what brand your doctor smokes!

Celebrity endorsements were also a big part of selling cigarettes. Actors like Steve McQueen were pimping smokes long before they died of lung cancer. But what about this nice, wholesome guy? Feel free to light up, but please be sure to spay and neuter your pets first!

I've always heard that either "love" or "music" were the universal languages. Wrong! Apparently smoking brings us all together!

Cigarettes don't just bring us all together, they also help solve the age old question of "What do you get for someone who already has everything??" Ah...just in time for the holidays a little gift giving tip:

Back before the beer cartel cornered the market on sports, the cigarette makers told us how important smoking was if you wanted to enjoy a ball game.

And the athlete's themselves even got into the act. Can't find any TV commercials for this, but here are a few great print ads that let us in on a little secret: Want to be an all-star? Well, smoke! And you'll notice that several of these ads even promise "no coughing."

And if you think Joe Camel inspired kids to smoke, how about a cute little penguin?

And if the penguin doesn't do it, how about some bona fide beloved family cartoon heroes? These celebrities did a whole series of cigarette commercials, but this one is my favorite.


becky garvey said...

Eeewwwww! Thank goodness we're past that...smoking sucks!

Beth (mamafitz) said...

I'm ashamed to say I bought into the whole coolness factor of smoking in the 70's...and proud to say I gave it up 18 years ago. No wonder there are a few generations of hopelessly addicted smokers out in the world - these ads were so misleading, and the addictive power of cigarettes should not be underestimated...
Amazing in today's culture that these ads were out there!

Kelly Watson said...

These are fabulous. And radio curator at the Museum of Television & Radio in NYC? What a fun job!

Ken said...

For the most part. the job had its moments...