What’s Your Poison?: Addictive Advertising of the ’40s-’60s

March 18, 2012 by  

Remember all those wonderful things from the 40s through the 60s that could kill you? You remember…things like cigarettes and alcohol? Kirven Blount has assembled some of the best of the tobacco and alcohol magazine ads from that era. Oh, the glamor! Oh, the magic! Seems like almost every cigarette brand at one time or another showed “documentary proof” that their product was milder, had lower nicotine, was preferred by more doctors, etc. One they didn’t show here was a 1955 Philip Morris (coincidentally, my preferred brand when I was a smoker–something I only grudgingly gave up almost 20 years ago) magazine ad that showed a mother holding her child, a Philip Morris cigarette burning in the ashtray, and the caption, “Born Gentle”. Innocent times indeed. Then there was the Marlboro ad (back in the early 50s, Marlboro was a very different brand, marketed toward women), with a picture of a baby, and the caption “Before you scold me, Mom, better light up a Marlboro”. And the brands, long gone…Fatima, Old Gold, Regent, Herbert Tareyton, Hit Parade, and Cavalier. Then there were the festive holiday cigarette cartons, decorated with messages of the season, illustrated with Santa and other seasonal characters–the ads encouraging the purchase of cartons of whichever brand as a Christmas present. The other subject in this book shows ads of our favorite beers, whiskeys, vodkas, and other delightful and refreshing beverages. Again, the glamor and fun outweigh any potential harm. It was an innocent time when advertising reigned supreme, and the buying public accepted what the advertisers presented: hook, line, and sinker. The author’s tongue-in-cheek commentary adds just the right amount of humor and thoughtfulness to what would otherwise be a picture book without context. God help me, I love those old ads!