This theme features ads for Real cigarettes, first introduced in 1977. As is the case with the majority of products on the market, brands of cigarettes were named in order to send particular messages to consumers. The brand name “Kool,” for example, not only reminds consumers of the throat-cooling sensation of menthols, but it also speaks to the word’s meaning in slang; to be “cool” is to be hip and trendy. The choice of certain brand names also extends to tobacco companies’ efforts to ease the concerns of worried smokers. Indeed, when the tobacco companies could no longer rely on explicit health claims in their advertisements due to FTC regulation, they developed countless methods to subliminally convey the same message, including brand name.
Real’s advertisements clarify the meaning of the brand’s name: the ads claim that nothing “artificial” is in the cigarette, implying that everything is “real.” By advertising a “natural” cigarette with “no additives,” Real poses as a safe, healthier cigarette. Real Filter and Real Menthol were discontinued in 1980 along with three other R.J. Reynolds brands after they failed to compete with their leading competitors (1). In Real’s case, this competitor was identified as Merit. The five discontinued brands were identified as RJR’s slowest-selling brands. Still, it was clear that with Real, RJR attempted to convince consumers that a brand of cigarettes could be healthy or less harmful.
1. “Ongoing Usage Pilot Study—Real and Merit Filter. Marketing Research Proposal (MRD#).” 30 Aug 1978. R.J. Reynolds. http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/glo77c00.