Date: 1931
Brand: Lucky Strike
Manufacturer: American Tobacco Company
Campaign: Famous Voices
Theme: For your Throat
Keywords: Male, Throat, Irritation, Light, Mild, Toasted, Singer, Edmund Lowe
Quote: I Protect My Voice With Luckies

Comment: American actor Edmund Lowe (1890-1971) starred in more than 100 movie roles, usually playing the perfect bachelor. Here, Lucky Strike provides Lowe with a great deal of publicity for three of his films his classic silent war film, What Price Glory? his recent 1931 film, The Spider, and his upcoming film, The Cisco Kid. For the latter, Lucky Strike also provides the movie studio, Fox Film Corporation, with publicity as well. Of course, the other two films mentioned were also Fox productions. In fact, Fox released a sequel to the silent What Price Glory? called Women of All Nations in 1931, the year this ad was printed. Lowe also starred in this sequel. Thus, Lucky s insistence that Lowe did not receive payment for the advertisement is little consolation, as he and Fox benefitted greatly from the advertisement through publicity. Lowe married three times, though it is widely accepted that he was homosexual. He was unable to complete his performance in his last film, Heller in Pink Tights (1960), due to illness. He passed away in 1971 from respiratory failure.

Famous Voices

In the 1920s, tobacco companies began enlisting hundreds of celebrities to endorse their products. In these advertisements, movie stars, famous singers, athletes, and even socialites graced the pages of popular magazines, editorials, and newspapers printed across the country. The 1920s and 1930s were the heyday of celebrity endorsement, with celebrities hawking everything from cigarettes to soap, from pantyhose to cars. However, it seems that no company was as prolific in its celebrity ad copy as Lucky Strike.

Famous voices ranging from radio commentators and broadcast journalists to singers and actors were vital components of celebrity testimonial campaigns for cigarette companies; the emphasis on healthy, clear voices in the singers line of work was an ideal avenue for portraying cigarettes as healthful, rather than harmful. The concept was that if a famous voice entrusted his source of revenue to a cigarette brand, then the brand must not be so bad! If it s good enough for Arthur Godfrey, it s good enough for me, a consumer might decide. It is ironic, of course, that these ads also worked to reveal the possible side effects of smoking by providing a problem (irritated throats, for example) and a solution (smoke our brand). Still, this problem-solution advertising was very popular at the time, and worked to position one brand as the exception to the problem rule or as the least problematic of all cigarette brands. It also worked to mask more serious health side effects by trivializing problems.

Stars were also used to attract a younger crowd. Stars were glamorous and represented a walk of life attractive to consumers who were already invested in tabloids and the lives of the show business elite. It wasn t until 1964 that tobacco companies were banned from using testimonials from athletes, entertainers, and other famous personalities who might be appealing to consumers under 21 years of age.

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