Campaign: Mild as May
Theme: Light, Super & Ultra Light


Mild as May

Tobacco companies have been advertising their particular brands as mild since the first half of the 20th century. From the start, smokers were aware that smoking irritated the throat, causing discomfort or smoker s hack. Though serious health effects of smoking, like lung cancer, emphysema, and heart attack, were not yet identified in the first half of the 20th century, the seemingly benign side effects such as sore throat and cough were certainly bothersome to smokers. To counteract the sentiment that certain cigarettes were harsh and thereby worse for one s health, cigarette companies began touting mildness, a ploy that has lasted well into the 21st century. By reassuring smokers that a particular brand was mild, tobacco companies succeeded in hooking consumers and preventing them from quitting.

In the 1930s, Philip Morris used mildness in an attempt to attract women, classifying Marlboros as Mild as May. Similarly, the American Tobacco Company, always struggling to maintain Lucky Strike s female consumer base due to the brand s inherently unfashionable packaging, employed the slogan, Mildness and Character along with images of beautiful, sophisticated, rich women. But a cigarette advertised as mild was by no means restricted to a female audience. Indeed, in the 1940s and 50s, Liggett & Myers drove home the mildness message in many of its Chesterfield ads that featured males. A good portion of these Chesterfield ads even included celebrity endorsements from famous men, including Ronald Reagan.

The deception continued and became increasingly prevalent as low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes gained ground in the 1970s. At this time, Brown & Williamson released Kool Milds in an attempt to attract the health-conscious smoker. B&W continued advertising Kool Milds heavily until 2010, when FDA regulations prohibited tobacco companies from using misleading monikers such as low and mild. Since this new regulation, Kool has followed other brands in color-coding its cigarettes to indicate mild or low-tar. It has now repositioned Kool Milds as Kool Blue.

   →  View Larger Image