Date: 1928
Brand: Camel
Manufacturer: R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
Campaign: Mass Marketing Begins
Theme: Targeting Women
Keywords: Female, woman, young adult, teen, girl, letter
Quote: Read the Truthwhen they learn to smoke for pleasure they flock to CAMELS

Comment: This advertisement shows a very young woman eagerly reading a letter. The tagline, when they learn to smoke for pleasure they flock to CAMELS can only be seen as a reference to young girls, especially with the use of the flighty verb, to flock. Young women looking at this advertisement would understand that smoking is a habit that is learned, and that Camels are the brand that will bring them pleasure. Perhaps the girl is blushing because she is reading a love letter, another source of pleasure she is privy to as she grows older. Additionally, many contemporary newspaper articles mentioned that parents would send their schoolgirls packs of cigarettes in the mail upon request. Perhaps this advertisement is supporting this practice. According to an article in the New York Times from July 13, 1929, this advertisement in particular enraged the Executive Committee of the Cleveland Boy Scout Council. The Cleveland Council was outraged by other advertisements which targeted young women and boys, but in particular, by this one, described as the now-appearing billboard advertisement which portrays a young lady reading a letter to the effect that girls who seek pleasure in smoking are flocking to that given brand of cigarette. The Cleveland Council felt that this advertisement merits strong disapproval and censure, because it is a flagrant luring and seductive effort to entice the girlhood of America to the habit of smoking. In response to the ad, the Cleveland Council requested that each of the million Boy Scouts of our country adopt as his daily good turn the creation of a sentiment disapproving of such unpatriotic efforts as the enticement of our girls and young men. The request fell on deaf ears when it was presented to the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America.

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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