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Ad Campaign Touted Health Benefits of Cigarettes

In the 1920s, the American Tobacco Company wanted to make their main brand, Lucky Strike, stand out from the other tobacco products on the market. So, they hired an advertising expert named Albert Lasker. In his book The Attention Merchants, here’s how author Tim Wu describes Lasker’s strategy:

Lucky Strike was presented as a health tonic—specifically, a cure for the problem of sore throats caused by most cigarettes. With a new claim that roasting “removes harmful irritants that cause throat irritation,” including “harmful corrosive acids.” The Lucky Strike slogan became: “your throat protection … Against irritation … Against cough.” There was even a secret process involved: “the toasting process includes the use of the ultraviolet ray … heat purifies and so toasting—that extra, secret process—removes harmful irritants that cause throat irritation and coughing.”

To drive home the hygienic benefit, Lasker ran a “precious voice” campaign, with testimonials from opera stars and other singers … [He also recruited doctors to tout the health benefits of smoking Lucky Strikes.] One advertisement features a doctor in a white coat holding up a packet, with a copy: “20,679 physicians say Luckies are less irritating … Your throat protection.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

In the same way, the world, the flesh, and the devil will take something that pollutes or kills our spiritual life and try to convince us that it’s actually good for us.


Tim Wu, The Attention Merchants (Vintage Books, 2016), p. 66

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