Kay W. sent us a link to an archive of cigarette advertising and other historical materials.  Among the many interesting things there were some internal documents circulated by tobacco companies. I include some below:

Product placement contract:

Targeting youth:

Script for Frank Sinatra:

Directing scientific research:

This New York Times article discusses the cigarette industries co-optation of nascent feminism.  Hat tip to Jezebel, where Sadie writes:

In the early 20th century, smoking was regarded as unladylike. In the 1920[s], realizing they were missing out on millions of potential customers PR expert Edward Bernays encouraged the American Tobacco Company to play on women’s nascent sense of modern independence… and the smoking feminist was born!

Also in co-opting feminism: make-upmore make-up and, of course, botox; cars and bras; more cigarettes; cleaning products, eyeglasses, and pants; diamond rings; credit cards, cigarettes, and cars; easing kitchen duty; and fashion (I think).

Smoking seems to be a theme this week. I just saw the Stanford School of Medicine’s online tobacco-ad gallery where you can view images by theme or brand. Fascinating.

tobacco-ad gallery flier

From the exhibit “Our intention is to tell—principally through advertising images—the story of how, between the late 1920s and the early 1950s, tobacco companies used deceptive and often patently false claims in an effort to reassure the public of the safety of their products.”

I found these vintage (1967-68) ads for Tiparillo cigars at Found in Mom’s Basement. All answer the question, “Should a gentleman offer a Tiparillo to…” a particular type of woman.

After a tough evening with the Beethoven crowd, she loves to relax and listen to her folk-rock records. Preferably, on your stereo. She’s open-minded. So maybe tonight you offer her a Tiparillo. She might like it–the slim cigar with a white tip. Elegant. And, you dog, you’ve got both kinds on hand, Tiparillo Regular and new Tiparillo M with menthol–her choice of mild smoke or cold smoke. Well? Should you offer? After all, if she likes the offer, she might start to play. No strings attached.

Underneath that pocket of pencils there beats the heart of a digital computer. This girl has already catalogued and cross-indexed the Tiparillo slim, elegant shape. And the neat, white tip. She knows that there are two Tiparillos. Regular, for a mild smoke. Or new Tiparillo M with menthol, for a cold smoke. She knows. She’s programmed. And she’s ready. But how about you? Which Tiparillo are you going to offer? Or are you just going to stand there and stare at her pencils?

She’ll read anything she can get her hands on. From Medieval History to How-to-Build-a-24-Foot-Iceboat. Loves books. Loves new ideas. Okay. No doubt, she’s seen the unusual, slim Tiparillo shape. She’s been intrigued by the neat, white tip. She may even know that there are two Tiparillos. Regular, for a mild smoke. And new Tiparillo M with menthol, for a cold smoke. Your only problem is which to offer. P.S. If she accepts your Tiparillo, remember to fumble with the matches until she decides to light it herself. That way, she’ll have to put down the book.

I found these next two on ebay (all these vintage ads can be purchased on ebay, it turns out):

Is this the old did-it-with-mirrors ploy? Look again. Okay, that’s enough looking. What you’ve got on your hands are carbon copy twins. And what you’ve got in your hands are Tiparillo and Tiparillo M with menthol. Since Tiparillo is the slim, elegant cigar with the neat tip, would it be statistically correct to offer it to this census-taking twosome? Because all they really want is your name, address, phone number and a few other factual facts. But what they get sort of depends on what you offer.

“The doctor is a little late, sir. Will you have a seat?” She’s the best thing to hit dentistry since novocaine. “Hey Dummy,” your mind says to you, “why didn’t you have this toothache sooner?” Maybe if…well, you could offer her a Tiparillo. Or a Tiparillo M with menthol. An elegant, tipped cigar. Slim. And your offer would be cleverly psychological. (If she’s a bit of a kook, she’ll take it. If not, she’ll be flattered that you thought she was a bit of a kook.) And who knows? Your next visit might be a house call.

I will lead it to you, dear reader, to decide if there was supposed to be anything else “cleverly psychological” in any of these ads.

I recently heard that Marlboros were originally marketed to women.  Amy L. sent in these examples from the 1950s (found here).  She writes:

Notice how “in one picture the baby actually asks mom to have a cigarette instead of scolding him. It plays up the women-as-hysterical stereotype and also shows changing expectations about good motherhood.”

NEW! Vintage Ads featured this 1957 ad suggesting that a Zippo Slim-Lighter is the perfect gift for a modern mother:


Ads often connect buying products with giving women freedom and independence. For instance, of course we knew we’d come a long way, baby, once we got our own cigarettes:

The Chase Freedom credit card gives you the liberty to spend money on all kinds of things:

All of these ads use the theme of women’s independence and freedom as something to be purchased. Women don’t get more freedom by struggling for it, and there aren’t any real obstacles; these companies have commodified independence for you, so all you have to do is buy their product and you’re set!

See also here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Found at The Situationist.

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

The propaganda below, from World War II, was distributed by the U.S. government.  In the posters, venereal disease (later known as sexually transmitted disease, and even later as sexually transmitted infections) is personified as a woman. Remember, venereal disease is NOT a woman. It’s bacteria or virus that passes between women and men. Women do not give it to men. Women and men pass it to each other. When venereal disease is personified as a woman, it makes women the diseased, guilty party and men the vulnerable, innocent party.

In this ad, the soldier is made innocent with the label “The Young, The Brave, The Strong.” The first girl is labeled “prostitution.” She says to the soldier: “Two girls I know want to meet you in the worst way.” The two women on the stairs, with the faces of skeletons, are labelled “syphilis” and “gonnorhea.”

Text: “Warning: These enemies are still lurking around.” The women are labeled “syphillis” and “gonnorhea.”

This one is my favorite. A female skeleton in an evening gown walks with her arms around Hitler and Hirohito. The text reads: “V.D. Worst of the Three.”

Here are three more:

At least some of these can be found here. Thanks to the unbeatablekid pointing out a source in our comments.

NEW: Marc sent us a link to these images (all found here):

A matchbook:

A pamphlet distributed to soldiers:

Thanks, Marc!

Text: “Back then, you didn’t look through your closet for something to wear. You wore your closet. You’ve come a long way, baby.”

Find your voice with Virginia Slims.

This is a Virginia Slims ad from 1978. The picture above is of a woman hanging laundry out to dry and the text says, “Back then, every man gave his wife at least one day a week out of the house. You’ve come a long way, baby.”
I’m using this when I talk about the commodification of the women’s movement and how freedom has been turned into something you buy. I also like the vague “back then,” used to make now seem so much better in every way.