Date: 1950
Brand: Camel
Manufacturer: R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
Campaign: Throat Doctors
Theme: Doctors Smoking
Keywords: Male, Female, Doctor, Throat, Irritation, Mild
Quote: Every week, their throats were carefully examined by a noted throat specialist- a total of 2470 examinations from coast to coast.

Comment: This advertisement is part of Camel s Not One Single Case of Throat Irritation campaign, in which Camel had throat specialists examine patients weekly, for 30 days, for throat irritation. None was reported, according to the ad, due to smoking Camels. Of course, this claim is meaningless. Serious throat and lung problems can not be expected to appear after 30 days of smoking, and there was no way for the doctors to identify the source of irritation as due to smoking Camels if irritation did arise. This ad also includes the More Doctors Smoke Camels campaign and the T-Zone campaign.

Throat Doctors

It was common in the late 1920s and early 1930s for tobacco companies to enlist throat specialists as endorsers of their products. The public was worried about throat irritation due to smoking, and tobacco companies hoped that support from physicians, especially otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors) would ease general concern. The none-too-subtle message was that if the throat doctor, with all of his expertise, chose to smoke a particular brand or to recommended a particular brand, then it must be safe. Unlike with celebrity and athlete endorsers, the doctors depicted were never specific individuals, because physicians who engaged in advertising would risk losing their license. It was contrary to accepted medical ethics at the time for doctors to advertise, but that did not deter tobacco companies from hiring handsome talent, dressing them up to look like throat specialists, and printing their photographs alongside health claims or spurious doctor survey results. These images always presented an idealized physician wise, noble, and caring. This genre of ads regularly appeared in medical journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, an organization which for decades collaborated closely with the industry. The big push to document health hazards also did not appear until later.

In this theme, otolaryngologists urge consumers to give your throat a vacation with Camels in 1931, and as late as 1950, the throat specialists are pictured examining a smoker for her Camel 30-day mildness test. In a 1930 advertisement, Robert Ripley, of Ripley s Believe it or Not fame, performs a cigarette test on a group of throat specialists and digs up certified proof that they prefer Old Golds. From 1948 to 1952, a number of actors dressed as otolaryngologists, identified by the head mirror, recommend De-Nicotea filters for a less irritating smoke. Chesterfield jumps on the band wagon in 1952, and even Kool s Willie the Penguin dresses up in otolaryngologist garb and poses in front of a diploma awarded to Doctor Kool in 1938. All of these brands used the specialized field of otolaryngology to present their cigarettes as healthful rather than harmful. It is ironic that they all manage to reveal the negative potential of cigarettes in the process by admitting, through their use of doctors and medical claims, that there are health concerns surrounding cigarettes to begin with.

   →  View Larger Image