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Tombstone Territory

Silk Cut Ultra Silk Cut billboards. Camel Pack Camel cigarette pack. Marlboro clothing brand Marlboro classic clothing ad.another Marlboro Classic clothing ad.

Two of a kind

The pages devoted to slang included consideration of the colloquial meanings Silk Cut Ultra double billboard.associated with the woodpecker ad, seen on the right of a billboard. Here I would like to focus on the ad on the left of the billboard. Both the ads are for Ultra Low Silk Cut cigarettes. Neither seem to include images that are instantly appealing though they presumably attract sufficient attention to justify their use. They are not surreal and interesting in the sense that older Benson and Hedges ads were. Instead they have a certain irritating value. On the right a Click for a larger, floating, image.  An ad for Ultra Low Silk Cut cigarettes. woodpecker pecks at a concrete lamp standard. On the left a wide awake male lies listening to the drip, drip, drip of a tap. Neither the woodpecker or the man seem destined to succeed with their goals.

However, it was noted on the slang page that the 'woody' and 'pecker' aspects of the woodpecker provided insight into the meanings associated with that ad. If one attempts to think of similar allusions with regard to a dripping tap one is likely to be disappointed. But all is not lost. The ad does indeed Extract with drippping tap.point out to the smoking viewer that they are likely to be a loser. Hence they will need cigarettes as a 'crutch' for their feeling. And, despite its appearance, the ad also helps maintain the almost universal association with sex.

Indirectly it alludes to sharing a bed - it's annoying to be alone. Equally indirectly it also alludes to sexual behaviour. How you may well ask. Well, look at the puddle of liquid The 'man' who is all 'prick'.underneath the dripping tap. Forget any nonsense about phallic symbols, etc. Simply turn your head to the right or save the image and turn it 90% to the left. If you do, what you will see is an image of a man with a pixie like head and 'glowing' cheeks. You might also note that he also has a giant phallus that rises right up in front of his mouth, the head of which is as shiny as his cheeks.

What this embedded figure is presumably intended to indicate is not that the model in bed is being annoyed by the dripping tap. He is being annoyed by a raging erection. Now isn't that Ultra Annoying?

But note also that this ad, in effect, reifies the arrogant notion noted in other cigarette ads that (Ultra Silk Cut) cigarette smokers are no more than 'pricks'.

The lower part of his 'body' is seemingly wrapped in a 'sheet'. That is quite appropriate, given that the model in the ad is in bed. To the left of the phallus (view the original of the image on the right) you will also find the letters SX. The combination of the figure and the lettering indicates quite clearly that this aspect of the ad was not a chance combination of characteristics or a slip of the artists brush. Manipulative intent lay behind the artwork and was a major feature in the conception of this and many (if not all) other cigarette ads displayed on this site.

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Fun and Games

Most of the cigarette ads you have come across on this site are structured in such a way that viewers are expected to extract some meaning from the visual information in the ad. This often has to be associated with pre-existing knowledge if it is to form any useful long term goal for the tobacco companies. Usually the aim has been to associate the cigarette brand with sex or to increase anxiety levels. With the promotional material on the right, the aim simply is to encourage involvement and liking.

A considerable amount of social psychological research indicates that it takes no more than a little bit of exposure to a neutral object or person for someone to like a previously neutral object more than subsequently presented, equally neutral, objects. The subject is known as the 'mere exposure effect'. It has also been noted that learning is more effective if one is actively involved with a subject rather than simply being a passive observor.

These principles seem to have been put into effect with a recent round of cigarette advertising/promotional activities for Camel cigarettes in the UK The illustration on the right is for a fold-up pack. This was inserted into magazines for young men. The intention may have been to encourage non-smokers to become accustomed to Camel cigarettes. Or it may have been to encourage existing young smokers to try this brand whose pack they had successfully produced. It is also probable that parents gave it to their children as a 'toy' to keep them occupied. Whatever the actions undertaken, the activity was involvement with the product pack, something that only free handouts tend to offer.

Other ads in the same series also required involvement, rather than passive observation. There was a jig-saw with a piece containing the brand name that had to be fitted, an envelope that had to be opened and a game of Snakes and Ladders. One might think activities such as these might only be effective with individuals with poor levels of intellectual competence. If so, you would be wrong. Nevertheless, one would not expect much unless the promotional effort was dedicated to trying to attract those individuals likely to become lifelong smokers (however short that might be) rather than existing brand smokers.

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Turn the other cheek?

The product illustrated below is produced by a company that has no direct links with Philip Morris. The company merely purchased the right to use the Marlboro name for use on high quality consumer goods. Similar tactics are used by other tobacco companies around the world to help them get around legislation limiting their promotional activities. See the shop window illustration below.

It seems apparent to the author that the clothing ads function in pretty much the same way as many Marlboro ads.* The Marlboro clothing and Marlboro cigarette ads even appear to come from the same ad agencies and implement similar semi-subliminal ad policies, hence the reference to turning the other cheek. Note the illustration of the models face. The textured lines on his right cheek don't require the application of too much imagination to perceive embedded 'letters'. What these 'letters' are I will leave to your 'vivid' imagination.

If any viewer can throw some light on the relationship between advertising Marlboro (and other brands) and advertising branded products other than cigarettes the author would be interested in hearing from them.

Link to Fravia Reverse Engineering Site*This conclusion is shared by the (French?) author of a semiotic analysis of a French Marlboro Classic ad (it has been, more or less, translated into English). If the page link doesn't work, check out the reverse engineering pages of the Fravia Site.

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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.

Link to previous pageLink to top of pageLink to Alternative Site  Menu offering some additional information about each page and its contents.

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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