TNB Night Owl – The Smoking Diet

Lucky Strike Cigarette tin, photo by Alf van Beem

Cigarettes aren’t healthy. This is not a new revelation. They’ve been nicknamed “coffin nails” since the 1880s, and the term was used by O. Henry in a 1907 story. They’re bad for you. They will kill you.

But who cares about death when weight loss is available?

That was the marketing direction taken by Lucky Strike cigarettes in the 1920s. A series of advertisements were produced for high-end “glossy” magazines wherein a young, active and happy person was displayed in the foreground and behind them was a shadow version which was morbidly obese.

This page from presents no less than seventeen of Lucky Strike’s “diet” ads, most of which are of the Shadow variety. (Trust me, click the link.)

“When tempted to over-indulge, reach for a Lucky instead,” was their original tagline. When that was played out (as happens to all advertising slogans, when people grow familiar with them and stop paying attention) they shifted to “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.”

That was where the ad campaign ran aground, though. Children were tempted to pick them up and try them, especially because so many adults smoked. Now it was not only socially acceptable, but it might be better than candy!

…No kids fell for it a second time. But complaints still ended the ad campaign, and the cigarette diet was over.

Question of the night: what was your favorite ad campaign?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.