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Not so Kool Kids

Kool Cigarettes Kool cigarette ad thumbnail Kool cigarette ad thumbnail Kool cigarette ad thumbnail Kook cigarette ad thumbnail Kool cigarette ad thumbnail Kool cigarette ad thumbnail Kool cigarette ad thumbnail.


Kool or InKapable?

The whole series of ads displayed on this page indicate quite clearly that the Kool male Click for a larger, floating, image. A typical Kool ad, with the girl giving the viewer (with the Kool pack) 'The Eye'. smoker is after a girl. That girls out with other men give him the eye. Or do they? What message are these Kool ads really conveying?

Note that this first ad is replete with gross phallic and sexual symbolism. There is, first of all, the pump attendant in the The pump attendant and sym-ballsbackground and the positioning of the pump. One can also note the shape beside the girl's right hand. The girl, of course, is not interested in him. He can continue to play by himself. She only has eyes for the guy with the Kool cigarettes.

Of course, the secondary message is that the guy with Kool cigarettes cannot get a girl. He has to content himself with his cigarettes, imagine he looks cool, and fantasize about the other guy's girl and what might have been. Sad, really.

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Macho Man or Mucho Unsure?

Click for a larger, floating, image. The classic Camel cigarette pack As with the previous ad, this shows a girl giving the eye to another male whilst in the company of someone else, who is distracted by another woman. The consistent display of such behaviour leads one to wonder whether the typical Kool smoker see everyone as unfaithful. The alternative is the scenario noted above.

The Kool smoker thinks of himself as macho but needs his props to sustain the display. Here, in addition to the pack of Kool, A wrist tattoo with s e x embedded in the design. he has a tattoo around his wrist. Notably, A natural tattooalthough semi-subliminally, the tattoo says SEX.

The S is clear to the left of the tattoo. The e is large but in lower case and there is an additional character in between the e and the X with part of that character running through the X. Compare this irregular pattern with the illustration on the right. It shows the regularity that could be expected with most tattoos circling the wrist or upper arm.

The presentation of such imagery is an indication that the Kool smoker has never heard that smoking impairs, rather than enhances, sexual ability. The most likely source of beliefs that sex and cigarettes 'go together' is likely to be the fallacious ideas promoted by movies and ads such as this. The Scottish Health Education Group once came up with the perfect answer for combating such nonsense and guaranteed to convince any doubting youngster. They suggested one should 'Kiss a non-smoker ..... and taste the difference.' I couldn't agree more. Saves on breath freshener and dry-cleaning bills as well.

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Responsible Marketing

The hard pressed tobacco industry likes to present itself in a positive light whenever possible. The ads up above may lead you to believe that they need to do so. But don't let them fool you. Here is another side to the semi-subliminal elements you will find in Kool Click for a larger, floating, image. A typical Kook ad, once again with the girl looking at the guy (viewer) with the Kool pack. ads.

Of more than passing interest in this ad are the windows of this car. A 'face' inthe front windowLook at both the front window to the left of the B in the B KOOL logo and also at the rear window. If you are slightly paranoid you will have no difficulty in perceiving that in both windows there is a face. If you are not paranoid then you will see them just as clearly if your vision is normal.

Another 'face' in the rear windowWhether one wishes to see them as the grotesque faces of little green aliens or as the sad, desperate, faces of smokers in need of a cigarette, or whatever, there is little doubt that these 'faces' were embedded intentionally by the creators of the ad. Whether the relationship cued by such figures is sexual, fearful or encouraging will depend upon the psychological make-up of the individual viewer but it is certain that the creators of such ads have investigated the psychological characteristics of their customers and potential customers.

If you look at the original of this ad you may also be tempted to believe that the pattern on the watch strap (partially displayed on the intermediate size image linked to the ad above) is a bit too much like lettering once again. It might even lead one to think of the word sex once again. That, at least, would be consistent but not responsible marketing. So much for one of the self-styled responsible companies in an controversial industry.


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Hair brained

Here is another example of semi-subliminal sexual messages embedded in a Kool cigarette ad. Again, of course, the girl is giving an anonymous male the eye. As usual this Click for a larger, floating, image. Again the Kool classic pose with the girl looking at the guy with the Kool pack. eponymous individual cannot be seen and, given the psychological characteristics noted above, the ad offers an indication that he will not be able to perform sexually. Note that the representation of his masculinity is droopy.

You might argue that this is simply a normal position to hold a cigarette. That is true. However ads are more than just a  possible 'sexy' letters in the girls hairrepresentation of normality. They are intended to convey meaning. And, as established above and elsewhere, the message associated with many cigarette ads is sexual. This ad is no different.

Look carefully at the girls hair, just under the B Kool sign. It is rather matted and does not seem to have the characteristics of normal hair, even when that has been permed or curled. You will undoubtedly see once again that embedded in the hair are shapes that are characteristic of letters. If these are the letters SEX or variations on these the ad carries the usual sex/cigarette association. The question is will Kool help this guy win the girl or will he remain forever Kool and droopy?


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Final Offers

As has been said often by anyone who analyses adverts there can be numerous interpretations of images. Here is a final trio of ads for Kool. All have the 'drooping' cigarette, the girl apparently being unfaithful, and eyeing another guy.

Click for a larger, floating, image. Another of three standard Kool ads.Click for a larger, floating, image. The second of three more standard Kool adsClick for a larger, floating, image. The final of three more Kool ads. The sucker line' ought to be easy enough to appreciate by now.

If one considers the girls for a moment, rather than the male Kool smoker, what message can one extract from the ads? Are they out for a good time, don't care about relationships, or what?

The answers to such questions are likely to be in the minds of observers rather than the models or the characters they are portraying. If these ads are representing the views of young male Kool smokers and potential smokers, then they see women as fickle, sexual objects. The message for young women, is B Kool, keep your distance, give the guys they eye, string them along and get ready for the main chance.

None of these messages seem to do much in the way of helping young adolescents or young adults develop a mature outlook on relationships. The opposite would seem to be closer to the truth. Responsible marketing? Think again.

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The message in the amination is based upon a parody of a campaign slogan against a brand called Dakota. The brand name smacked of the open, wild, west, and the associated advertising imagery of rebellious, individualist bikers, a la Marlon Brando in The Wild One. But the proposed marketing hype was destroyed by a devastating, witty, four liner that went as follows.


Da Cough...

Da Cancer...

Da Coffin

You cannot get much better than that.

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No smoking sign.Future Developments

Would you be interested in supporting the development of a web site focussing specifically on cigarette advertising, smoking behaviour, nicotine addiction and related information? In particular would you like to help encourage youngsters to develop a healthy scepticism about advertising practices associated with cigarette advertising and promotion? If you can offer either financial assistance to develop such a site or have material available that could be of use on such a site, the author would be pleased if you would contact him.






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Commentary and information about any of the ads or requests on this Web site can be sent by e-mail to the Webmaster

To the best of the author's knowledge none of the illustrations, in the format used on this site, are subject to copyright. If copyright has been inadvertently breached please contact the author in order to rectify the matter. All brands and logos referred to or illustrated on this site are the property of the relevant companies and copyright holders. However, commentary and other information produced by the author can be freely copied and distributed. Similarly, illustrations of ads, so long as they are accompanied by commentary or are presented in the form of parody, can also be copied and distributed but please acknowledge as the source. Translation of tobacco company ads and relevant commentary into languages other than English will be particularly welcomed.

Last Revised: 3rd January, 2003


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