When P. Lorillard first introduced the Old Gold brand in 1926, the company advertised the brand under the slogan “Not a Cough in a Carload.” Our collection of Old Gold ads runs the “Not a Cough in a Carload” slogan in some capacity up until 1934. The slogan contends that in every train car full of Old Gold tobacco leaves (in every “carload”), not one cough could be found. Of course, the slogan can also be interpreted that in a carload of people – each smoking Old Golds – not a single person would be coughing. Either way, the ambiguous slogan undoubtedly served to reassure a worried public as to the healthfulness and safety of cigarettes, and in particular the healthfulness and safety of the Old Gold brand. This advertising technique is known as “problem-solution” advertising; it provides the problem (coughing due to smoking) and the solution (smoke Old Golds). Of course, the “solution” is deceptive. No cigarette is healthful, and no cigarette reduces throat irritation or coughing. False health claims such as this abound in tobacco advertisements throughout the decades, but “Not a Cough in a Carload” was one of the most pervasive.
Despite being one of the most recognizable advertisement slogans in the nation at the time, the “Not a Cough in a Carload” slogan was often intermingled with other themes, ranging from “They Gave a New Thrill” to “Old Gold Weather” in an attempt to provide consistency among ads. Many of the “Not a Cough in a Carload” advertisements include celebrity testimonials or take the form of cartoons. The comics included at the end of this theme collection were all illustrated by Clare Briggs between 1927 and 1928. The comics were already well-known in American culture, and when they began to be used toward cigarette advertising, they were a huge success for Old Gold, appearing in approximately 1,500 American newspapers nationwide. Briggs’ popularity within Lorillard was so vast that the company named another of its brands in honor of the illustrator: Briggs Smoking Tobacco.