Date: 1929
Brand: Lucky Strike
Manufacturer: American Tobacco Company
Campaign: Mass Marketing Begins
Theme: Targeting Women
Keywords: Myrna Darby, women, female, showgirl, singer, body image, weight, health, luxury, glamour, toasted
Quote: Tasting takes out every bit of bite and throat irritation.

Comment: This ad, part of the highly successful Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet campaign targeting women, features a portrait of Myrna Darby (1908-1929), a young and famous showgirl. Myrna was discovered at the age of 17 and quickly became famous as a Ziegfeld chorus girl on Broadway, but died four years later at the age of 21 on Sept. 27, 1929 from an unknown heart condition the year that this advertisement was printed. She is the image of American youth and beauty. Some say she died from a broken heart due to a broken engagement to a millionaire s son, while her doctor diagnosed a tired heart due to swimming and sunbathing. Though none of her professional photos feature her smoking a cigarette, many are seductive and partially nude.

Mass Marketing Begins

As the threat of tobacco prohibition from temperance unions settled down in the late 1920s, tobacco companies became bolder with their approach to targeting women through advertisements, openly targeting women in an attempt to broaden their market and increase sales. The late 1920s saw the beginnings of major mass marketing campaigns designed specifically to target women. Cigarette manufacturers have for a long time subtly suggested in some of their advertising that women smoked, a New York Times article from 1927 reveals. But Chesterfield s 1927 Blow some my way campaign was transparent to the public even at the time of printing, and soon after, the campaigns became less and less subtle. In 1928, Lucky Strike introduced its Cream of the Crop campaign, featuring celebrity testimonials from female smokers, and then followed with Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet in 1929, designed to prey on female insecurities about weight and diet. As the decade turned, many cigarette brands came out of the woodwork and joined in on unabashedly targeting women by illustrating women smoking, rather than hinting at it.

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