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Smokin’ and Drinkin’ in Advertising


Societal marketing is the concept that a company should make good marketing decisions by considering consumers’ wants, the company’s requirements, and society’s long-term interests.

Hmmmm. Consider the headline, “Friday night, at last. Forget the job, forget the boss, forget being uptight, and relax…”.

That’s right! Being uptight is not in society’s long-term interest. Chillin’ out is.

Even looking past the guy’s psychedelic shirt with collar points better suited for a 727 than something to be worn, the copy writing in this April 1971 ad on the back of Life magazine is completely throw away.

I don’t smoke but the few people I do know who smoke rarely do so relaxing with a babe and cognac. Today’s smokers usually huddle in the elements out in back by the shipping dock, on the deck at home or hanging their hand out the window as they drive.

Recognizing that 4o years ago smoking was different. It was cool. But was it a relaxing reward for a hard days night?

“Rich, full, easy to take.” Yikes this stuff is amazing.

It’s easy to take pot shots at vintage glimpses of society. Fashion, hair styles, terms like “uptight” can look downright humorous through the lens of today. But even with that pass, this ad is remarkably lame. Considering it occupied the entire back cover of Life magazine – which was likely pretty expensive ad space back in the day, you’d think the guys at L&M Filter Kings would have wanted something more than this ad.

I’m not convinced society has evolved in the right direction since 1971…but I’m certain that I’d rather not have companies making decisions in “society’s interest”. That’s society’s job (individuals, families, public servants) – not corporate responsibility.

Oh, and to the dude in the ad I’d like to say I won’t tell Grandma you’re wearing her favorite paisley table-cloth as a disco shirt.

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