Hat tip to x-ray delta one, via Copyranter.

NEW! (Dec. ’09): Larry (of The Daily Mirror) found two images of Earhart from 1937 in the L.A. Times photo archives. In both Earhart was asked to pose in flirty or cutesy ways that it’s hard to imagine a famous male pilot being posed in:




Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

My friend Larry, of The Daily Mirror, found some awesome old ads for Bull Durham tobacco. Here’s the original, with both a map of North America on his side and a scrotum that is partially obscured by still clearly present:

steer durham

Here’s the version that ran from 1919-1924. Notice the difference?


No more shocking reproductive organs! Also, he doesn’t have a map of North America on his side any more. As Larry says, clearly a subversive plot to try to symbolically emasculate the U.S., probably so the socialists could take over.

I do wonder what was going on during that particular time period that would make marketers at Bull Durham believe that a less anatomically correct version was necessary. Any thoughts (other than it being a subversive plot)?

More recently we saw men’s nipples airbrushed out of a Wrestle Mania billboard. On the other hand, testicles were added to a statue of Civil War General John H. Morgan sitting in his favorite horse, Bess…who, as you might have surmised, wasn’t a male horse and did not have testicles. But, you know, testicles made her look more appropriate for a military figure to ride.

We’ve posted in the past about how cigarettes have been marketed to women: as ways to lose weight, a form of personal liberation (more examples of this marketing theme here and here) as a way to calm down stressed moms, and doctor-approved methods of clearing up skin problems.

A while back Emily M. sent us a link to an article at the Onion A.V. Club that shows how men have been portrayed in cigarette ads. They provide a nice comparison to female-oriented marketing campaigns.

A recurring theme is that of a men as rugged individualists who go out and explore wild, remote, presumably dangerous places on their own. The Marlboro Man is the most familiar example, but Camel’s “where a man belongs” campaign also stressed this image:


Another major theme we see is cigarettes as facilitators of male bonding:



Other times we see men smoking as they do Really Intense Work:


Also see our post on Tiparillo cigarettes as a way to get hot women and Skoal use as male bonding that will get you out of a speeding ticket.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

In a list of 15 contrasting billboards on Buzzfeed, I found these three:


I usually think of public service announcements as a form of education.  Presumably there’s a harmful ignorance out there somewhere that can be corrected.  But these contrasts bring into stark relief the fact that public service announcements aren’t only fighting ignorance, they’re fighting corporations.  The battle isn’t just between misinformation and information, it’s between for-profit and non-profit organizations.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

U.S. tobacco companies–through political donations, lobbying efforts, and networks–are able to exert some control over the degree to which, and how, the U.S. government controls its industry.  One area of resistance involves warning labels.  The tobacco company has been resisting the very idea that cigarettes cause cancer, and the advertising of this fact, for decades.

This photo of cigarettes on sale at a duty free shop in Düsseldorf, Germany, sent in by Steve W., gives us some perspective on just how successful they’ve been:


Here, for comparison, is a photo of cartons of Marlboro’s on sale in Texas:


In case you can’t read it, the large text above the “Marlboro” logo reads: “Flip Top Box.”


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Hyperion submitted a great illustration of cultural change. Today, cigarette smoking is illegal in most public places, but there was a time in which cigarette smoking was normative instead of deviant. This radar analysis instrument, in use through the 1950s through 1980s, includes a built-in cigarette lighter and ashtray:


More on this and like instruments here.

Thanks Hyperion!

In case you thought the craze for sanitary or anti-bacterial products was new, here’s a Cremo cigar ad from the 1920s (found at the Microfilm Gallery) that scares consumers with the specter of cigars covered in “mites of malice”:


Just think! On the hands of a cigar-maker may lurk many different kinds of disease germs…crippling ‘mites of malice’ that you may draw into your mouth through hand-made cigars. To awaken men to this invisible danger…I want to tell the truth about Cremo–the only cigar whose purity I can truly certify. Every tobacco leaf entering the Cremo factory is scientifically sterilized by U.S. Government approved methods. Cremo is fit for you mouth, because it is not made in stuffy, dingy lofts and stores…but in air-flooded, sun-bathed, scientifically-clean factories. Not by antiquated methods…but by marvelous inventions that fold, wrap, and tip the cigars with sanitary metal fingers. This scientific, Cremo-method of manufacture guarantees you cigars of the same high health protection that you get in certified milk! What’s more…Cremo purity is quickly sealed in individual sanitary foil. Thus Cremo reaches your lips with a pleasure that you can trust!

What I like here is the total faith in technology and mass production. It’s safer! It’s innovative! It’s sanitary! It’s a striking contrast to the concerns often expressed about scientific innovations and their possible negative effects. It would also be a good example for talking about the way that perceptions of manufacturing methods have changed. In the 1920s, the idea of mass-produced cigars was exciting and modern. The fact that they were made with “metal fingers” was a selling point. Today, on the other hand, the techniques referred to in this ad as “antiquated” might be called “artisanal,” a word that connotes craftsmanship and quality. According to,

The novice smoker may be tempted to start by trying those machine made brands sold in Drug Stores, such as Dutch Masters or El Producto. However, the aspiring connoisseur should consider spending a few more pennies and moving up to hand rolled cigars, which are sold online or at a local tobacconist.

Maybe someday we’ll think of soap that isn’t anti-bacterial as a high-quality, artisanal product.

This archive of cigarette commericals, sent in by Kay W., makes some interesting comparisons of vintage and contemporary cigarette ads.

First, they compare vintage ads that try to sell cigarettes by pointing to the fact that they suppress your appetite with contemporary-ish Virginia Slims ads which seem to suggest so indirectly.

Second, they compare vintage advertisements that argue that some brands are smooth and good for your voice with the contemporary “Find Your Voice” campaign:

Third, this set of ads nicely shows how the association of glamour with cigarette smoking has transcended history: