Collection: Get a Lift
In a prime example of marketing wizardry, tobacco advertisements have simultaneously presented cigarettes as both sedatives and stimulants. Ads worked to convince consumers that cigarettes would calm the smoker when he felt nervous, or pep him up when he felt sluggish. This theme features ad campaigns from that proclaim cigarettes to be stimulants.
In these ads from the early 1930s, Camel provides readers with “personal experiences that point the way to increased energy.” Each ad features a few testimonials from folks of varying professions, explaining how in their line of work, it is important to “Get a LIFT with a CAMEL.” This slogan is at odds with Camel’s other contemporaneous slogan, “It takes healthy nerves,” which claimed that far from being energy-boosting, Camel actually relaxed smokers on the job.
“Tired?” the Camel ads ask. “No matter! Here’s a delightful way to restore your flow of energy … as now revealed by Science.” Most disturbingly of all, the ad falsely claims that the energy boost from Camels “occurs in a harmless and utterly delightful manner.”
The ads target a wide variety of audiences. In particular, one 1937 Camel ad explicitly targets young people with an ad featuring a sporty debutante, calling her “typical of the younger set who go in for vigorous outdoor sports.” Other ads feature older men in distinguished careers in order to target an older set of smokers. Men are also shown in a variety of high-energy jobs; from football quarterbacks to deep sea divers, from rail engineers to pilots, from newspaper men to architects, no one is left out. The ads take a similar approach with women, featuring air hostesses, business women, champion mountain climbers, and even non-working women. One ad from 1934 claims that Olympic Diving Champion Georgia Coleman was “tired out from diving – and then she smoked a Camel!” while another from 1935 says the same for a woman out shopping: “I don’t know any task as exhausting as shopping,” says the unnamed woman. “I often slip away for a Camel when I’m getting tired. A camel restores my energy.”
Indeed, careful attention is paid to non-working women in order to ensure they don’t feel alienated by the plethora of testimonials featuring men and women at work. “A crowded store is tiring,” reiterates Mrs. Van Brunt Timpson in 1935, who also claims that smoking a Camel helps her tackle her shopping. In an ad from the previous year, housewife Mrs. Charles Day says, “Camels pick up my energy,” and in yet another ad from 1935, “college girl” Marguerite Osmun is also quoted as feeling “refreshed” after smoking a Camel “when tired.”
It is shocking to compare these ads to those which claim certain brands calm the nerves, revealing the sheer adaptability of the cigarette and its wide-reaching appeal.