Date: 1938
Brand: Lucky Strike
Manufacturer: American Tobacco Company
Campaign: Singers & Performers
Theme: For your Throat
Keywords: Female, Throat, Irritation, Actor, Dolores Del Rio
Quote: Her throat insured for $50,000.00. The $50,000 insurance is a studio precaution against my holding up a picture, says Miss Del Rio. So I take no chance on an irritated throat. No matter how much I use my voice in acting, I always find Luckies gentle.

Comment: Mexican actress Dolores Del Rio (1905-1983), known affectionately as the Princess of Mexico, provides this glamorous testimonial for Lucky Strike. A popular silent film star in America, Del Rio found continued success in the talkies in America and later in Mexico. This ad was printed in 1938, which marked the dwindling of her American stardom. The film studio, 20th Century Fox, most likely hoped to garner publicity for itself, for their new film, and most importantly for a suffering Del Rio. The film is listed here as Shanghai Deadline but was renamed International Settlement when released. Though the ad wasn t able to salvage Del Rio s American career, her fall from stardom urged her to return to Mexico where she found astonishing acting success. This particular ad portrays Lucky Strikes as cigarettes safe for the throat; it explains that Del Rio s throat is insured for $50,000 and that she takes no chances on an irritated throat and finds Luckies gentle.

Singers & Performers

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.

Singers 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 singer entrusted her voice and throat her source of revenue to a cigarette brand, then it must not be so bad! If it s good enough for Frank Sinatra, 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 served to trivialize health side effects of smoking, masking more serious side effects in the process.

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.

   →  View Larger Image