JF Ptak Science Books Expansion and Correction(s) of Post 1638 (Thanks to Orion Pozo at NCSU for starting this off by outing the Marlboro baby.) Part of the series on the History of Blank, Missing and Empty Things, Part 77: Promises.
"The world is my dream."-- Sir Karl Popper
In the History of Empty Promises advertisements for fulfilling experiences with safe/pleasant/not-addictive/sweet-smelling tobacco cigarettes would find a key position, if for no other very large reason than having killed so many millions of people. Many of the lies told to the consuming public on the efficacy of cigarettes have come through billions of dollars worth of print advertisement, many of which featured the earnest eyes of someone famous (Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, the Duchess of Windsor), or authoritative (football referees, doctors, lawyers, airline pilots), or trustworthy (Santa, the family dog), or even innocent (teenagers and of course babies). I've collected a few examples that I find particularly arresting--there are hundreds or thousands more to choose from.
- Note--all images are drawn from the great resource at Stanford University on cigarette advertising, here.
Cigarette Eyes of Babies (for Mommy--for Daddy, see below):
In one of the high twisted occurrences in the history of Buying Things, Marlboro cigarettes started its life out as a smoke for women, a mild, feminine object for ladies. And as we can see here an early appeal to the possible consumer came through the eyes of an infant. The product didn't sell well, and was repackaged for men, the baby eyes eventually being replaced by the iconic cowboy. This is one of the few times that an a consumer object that began its career as a sales vehicle for women crossed the gender barrier.
Cigarette Eyes (and Nostrils) of self-knowledge and belief (because nothing quite spells out personal knowledge than blowing hot smoke through your nose holes):
Cigarette Eyes of the edification of pure scientific support for the glory of smoking:
Chesterfield not only conquered the alphabet for cigarettes, but "science" as well. Here we see Big Science affirming the ABC claim that there is no "aftertaste" in their cigarette. (The 'scope has no identifiers, probably taken away in the darkroom, but it looks like it might be a Spencer to me. Maybe B&L.)
Cigarette Eyes of Babies (for Daddy):
Ciggie Slim-Lust Eyes:
Cigarette Nurse Eyes of Trust and Responsiveness:
Cigarette Teenager Eyes:
Nothing quite spells out h-e-l-l (even to non-believers) than those things that are dangerous and targeted at children. This add provides even a little more than that--the leaping teenager does have a cigarette in her left hand (if you look closely you'll see it) an is revealing quite a lot of herself in flight...even the angle of descent is suggestive. At first glance I thought this was a cheerleader to be exposing so much, but, no--she's just a teenager who is smoking and leaping.
Cigarette Teacher Eyes:
Well, I guess that these weren't necessarily teacher/scientist eyes, but the man in the suit was supposed to convey that. He was after all smoking a smart cigarette, with a filter--something relatively new in the mid-1960's when Lorilard Company pushed their Micronite filter. It was supposed to filter out the bad stuff from cigarette smoke, and did so by employing crocidolite asbestos as part of the filtering agent--this is a form of asbestos that is the most dangerous of the amphibole asbestos family. Evidently something like 18% of the miners who mined this sort of asbestos (also known as "blue asbestos" have died of mesothelioma--not contracted the disease, but died of it. And here it was, being inhaled with cigarette smoke.)
Ciggie Eyes of Sex:
This was far from being the first round of advertisements using sex as a possibility achieved via the purchase of a commodity. It was also not the oddest promise for weight loss from an unsuspecting product--cocaine was sold for this purpose as well in the early part of the century. Heroin too. I can guarantee that if you these this often enough it will loosen your grip on food, almost to the point of exclusion; and then, like magic, food gone, you will lose weight. Cigarettes offered themselves as a substitute for candy--for women--and in this way became an inglorious end to what still seem the impossible dream of maintaining an always-improbable desired figure.
Ciggie eyes of Teddy Ballgame:
And from the other end of the field, a little inset picture of Babe Ruth, who evidently could tell his ciggies apart, blindfolded, and in uniform. It is a creepy and surreal image:
He didn't have the best relationship with his wives, and had some other social factors weighing in against him, but the man was famously kind and generous with children, which gets him a "pass" in my book. He died of cancer in 1948, aged 53. (His last public address was eloquent and heartfelt, a truly wonderful short speech.)
Cigarette Eyes of Santa:
In a world of things in which everything was wrong, this was among the "wrongest", so wrong it isn't even wrong. There are many ads featuring Santa, some of which show him decorating a Christmas tree with boxes of cigs, others showing him with his sack full of yet more cigarette cartons. Even in an Encyclopedia of Bad Taste, this would be a key entry.