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Kids Stuff!


Mayfair   Mayfair billboard poster  Mayfair billboard posters)  Mayfair billboard poster  Mayfair billboard poster Camel Camel ad with Old Joe.

Regal Ad for Regal cigarettes featuring Reg Ad for Regal cigarettes Ad for Regal cigarettes Superkings  Superkings billboard poster

Lambert & Butler  Lambert and Butler billboard poster  Lambert and Butler billboard poster


For Adults Only?

Framed image of Regal ad 

...................You MUST be kidding!

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For Adults Only?

Joe Camel ad with cigarette smoke For Adults only? The answer is probably yes. And then again, it's no.

The Joe Camel ads and the Hard Pack certainly appealed to kids - as they were undoubtedly intended to. Only a naive individual would be taken in by the disingenuous efforts of R.J.Reynolds to convince the public that they had no such idea in mind.

But, the advertisers also wished to appeal to adolescents and adults. And how!

In this ad you will find one of the standard Camel variations on the theme of embedded sex. The key lettering of the word SEX is embedded in this ad. Check out the smoke on an original copy of the ad and you will see that the letter S overlaps an X. This combination of features could of course, happen by chance, but not as often as one sees Extract from ad showing 'lettering' in smokethis combination in cigarette ads. As the ad this illustration was obtained from was not full size it is impossible to check out the background. I would, however, suspect that the textured background (and the shadow under Joe's neck) also contained embedded lettering. Some more recent Camel ads in which sex and masturbation are more prominently featured can be found elsewhere on this site. Check out Camel Crap. For another ad from about the same era as the ad above, check out the interesting oldie from 1993 on the Pollpage.

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For Believers Only

 Click to link to page with larger, readable, version of AMA Code of Ethics.Advertising and marketing associations often blow their own trumpet and proclaim how interested they are in ethical marketing and advertising. This is fine so far as it goes. But what happens when one of their member companies stray? Well, the answer is probably nothing. Note the last line in the AMA Code of Ethics simply states that companies who stray from the straight and narrow may be penalized. The first clause is definitive: the company has strayed. The second is not: they may be penalized. As they probably say in Yorkshire, 'If you have sufficient clout you can expect nowt [to happen]'.

Would the associations, for example, kick out the agencies working for the tobacco companies? Will they do anything other than meekly censure them after reading these pages? Will the UK Advertising Standards Association and other professional associations in any of the countries noted in these web pages boycott those agencies who consistently and Animated Boxerintentionally have breached the weak, self regulated, codes?

I think the answers are self evident. Only the consumer and their elected representatives have the power to bring the ad agencies and their client companies into line - and prevent the tobacco companies from attempting to 'brainwash' young kids and adolescents.

See Ads from the Archives for the stance adopted by theAmerican Association of Advertising Agencies a decade or so ago. The Association refuted claims about 'subliminal' advertising in a number of sophisticated ads that succeeded in both patronizing and conning American consumers. By incorporating the type of embedded images in their own ads the AAAA demonstrated that, whilst overtly ridiculing their critics and consumers who recognized that 'subliminal' ads were in use, their member agencies knew they could 'pull the wool' over the average American consumer any day.

asmile.gif (243 bytes)You can also look across at the pages devoted to the Advertising Standards Authority of the UK. There you will note their attitude to 'subliminal advertising'. It doesn't exist. You will also be able to see examples of where they got it right and banned an ad from Peugeot that contained semi-subliminal content. However, even though embedded elements probably influenced their decision to censure the ad, they probably did not realise that it contained embedded elements.

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Brainchildren or Sons of Reg

cartoon phoneYou don't need to be a rocket scientist to appreciate that the cigarette ads onRegal ad with caption Reg on Smoking the posters illustrated below were not penned with mature individuals in mind. 

But, admittedly, there is nothing definitive that would lead one to conclude they were intended for children.   On occasions the words or phrases are somewhat trendy - the word squillions did make it into the terminology of trendy late teens and young adults in the late 1990's.   However, even although it could be argued that most of these lines were written with adults in mind, it is much more likely that they originated in brainstorming sessions among 'creative' advertising personnel only too aware that their client tobacco companies need to catch their customers young.   

Cartoon type characters such as Regal's Reg were banned in the UK some years ago because of their obvious appeal to underage and unsophisticated smokers.    There would be extreme concern if UK companies made any overt attempts to 'import' Mayfair poster with 'Stuck Up Attitude' captioncharacters such as the cute Camels featured in Camel ads (see Viva Espa�a and Camel pages). For the same reasons beware imported magazines. The Yanks page considers the extent to which British audiences are now exposed to American ads for cigarettes. British ads for cigarettes have clear cut guidelines as to what is and is not permissible. Ads thus have to be carefully Regal ad with Reg on Race Relationstailored to appeal to underage smokers whilst appeaing to be directed towards adults with a preference for the cheaper branded cigarettes.  

Most cheap brands make use of similar devices, Regal ad with Reg on the Stock Exchangefocussing on adolescent humour or unusually unsophisticated use of language and visuals. These are sufficient to circumvent the ASA guidelines on advertising to minors.  This technique developed because the tobacco company message to ad agencies is simple.  " Pitch the campaign asMayfair billboard poster with caption Squillions in the Bank if it were directed towards adults.  It will therefore get past the Advertising Standards Authority when they evaluate the ad campaign at the concept stage.   But, as our target audience falls into a younger age group, ensure that the message will also appeal to under age kids. "

Given that the tobacco industry is a dying trade - and there is a continual need to replace onetime customers with new addicts - one might reasonably assume that the primary audience for such ads is not in fact adults but underage smokers. The reasoning behind the childish humour evident in Lambert & Butler ads, the adolescent language spinning the economic benefits of Mayfair, and the visual puns in asmile.gif (243 bytes)Superkings ads, is thus quite apparent.   Very few of the puns, jokes and turns of phrase would be found in the linguistic usage of adults of even average intelligence. Nor in kids animated Angelmagazines such as Viz.  Such ads would therefore seem to be oriented towards young children just as their predecessors were. The target audience of these ads is unfortunately not sophisticated enough nor sceptical enough to realize that they are being conned by some of the most ruthless and heartless companies on earth.  By the time they realize they have been manipulated, if they ever do, they are hooked on nicotine - a drug that is as addictive as heroin. 

For Adults Only!  Don't make me laugh.

typical jokey Lambert and Butler billboard posterAnother jokey Lambert and Butler billboard posterMayfair 'Stuck Up' billboard poster 






Superking billboard poster



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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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