Date: 1949
Brand: Camel
Manufacturer: R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
Campaign: Singers & Performers
Theme: For your Throat
Keywords: Female, Singer, Opera, Gladys Swarthout, Virginia Mac Watters
Quote: In a recent test of hundreds of men and women who smoked only Camels for thirty days, noted throat specialists, making weekly examinations reported not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels.

Comment: Coloratura soprano Virginia MacWatters (1912-2005) and mezzo-soprano Gladys Swarthout (1900-1969) provide the testimonials for this comic-style Camel ad. They are also featured in an additional Camel ad from 1949. Swarthout passed away from heart disease in 1969. Ten years prior, she had undergone open heart surgery after being diagnosed with a mitral heart valve condition in 1956.





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.






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