Cigarette Advertising on Men and Women

Published on March 10th, 2016 00:00
women and men smoking

In the first decade of the 20th century, when cigarette producers started advertising campaigns targeted towards women, the commercials associated smoking with changes in social trends like shorter and more revealing dresses, dancing, and dating.  Already, by the mid-1920s, cigarette smoking among women was widespread. Women in cigarette adverts are always young and eye-catching.  Often they exhibit sexuality as well.  Even in advertisements for Virginia Slims, a cigarette brand produced for women in 1968 that took gain of the growing women’s action to market its product, women continued to be feminine and fashionable and not a threat to gender roles.

Cigarette commercials always highlighted attractive men, quite often in suits, however from the 1960s on; commercials also demonstrated rugged men in outdoor settings.  They were sturdy, physically fit, independent, decisive, and not communicative.  The best example of the macho man was the cowboy Marlboro Man who appealed to men working in offices or other standard jobs as an enthusiast fantasy.

Marlboro as a brand dated to the 1930s when it was advertised to women as a dainty cigarette with an “ivory tip.” Already in 1954, Marlboro was granted with an entire transformation so that it would attract most macho men.  The cigarette was filled with a new filter and new packaging in a cardboard flip-top box with a new red-and white chevron style.  At the beginning, several “outdoors” men with tattoos on their wrists were shown up in the advertisements, but by 1962, the cowboy Marlboro Man came out on top.  The Marlboro Man, strong, tough, and independent, was one of the most prosperous cigarette campaigns ever.

By Robert Smith, Staff Writer
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