Who Put the Cigarette in the Hands of Women?
In the Western World, lots of women became addicted to smoking during World War I. Tobacco was known as an effective anti-depressant that was necessary for the participants of military actions. Thus, the nurses and radio operators (the representatives of the female sex, at most) smoked like chimneys equally with men.
Anyway, before the beginning of the 1930s, women who smoked in public spaces were widely condemned. Women were allowed to smoke only at home, indoors. The cigarette was a privilege for the man only. Who or what changed a course of the tobacco history?
Edward Louis Bernays, also known as “the father of public relations,” was a magician who pulled the strings in order to raise the sales of the American Tobacco Company. This company was one of the leaders on the market of tobacco products. Once, the analysts of the company noticed that the trading volumes stopped rising and got stuck on a particular level. The sales manager of the company George Washington Hill decided to hire Edward Bernays, who had already been famous for his unorthodox methods of conducting the business. The answer of the PR-genius was simple: men wouldn’t smoke more cigarettes than at that moment; that’s why it was necessary to concentrate the attention on the female audience.
George Hill entrusted Edward Bernays to increase the number of “Lucky Strike” buyers among women. As mentioned above, female smoking was unacceptable for western society in the 1920s. The first step of the ambitious advertising campaign was to present smoking as an efficient weight-loss habit. The strategy was quite successful as a slim figure was a cherished ideal for every American female at the beginning of the 1930s. However, the success was partial: the women started to smoke more but, still, not in the open.
In the USA at the beginning of the 20th century, the women’s liberation movement began to pick up steam. The activists fought for the equal rights for women and the emancipation in all spheres of social life. Edward Bernays suggested that he could use this movement for the campaign’s profit. He hired a few women and provided them with unusual instructions. They had to light their cigarettes in public during the Easter Sunday Parade of 1929. Bernays also hired photographers in order to get some professional photos that later became widespread around the world. When a group of good-looking women began to smoke in public, all people around were shocked. The journalists got the definite answer: the cigarettes in the hands of the women were the symbol of liberty. Later, they were called the “torches of freedom.”
Consequently, the campaign aimed at the boosting of the trading volumes of “Lucky Strike” created a whole new tendency. The scenes with smoking women began to appear in Hollywood movies. The cigarette became not only the symbol of freedom but also sexuality, independence, and mystery.
This real-life example demonstrates the great power of advertisement. Be careful and don’t let the admen trick you!