Tag Archives: propaganda

Cigarette Advertising in the 1930′s – Early Years

The Richmond Collegian, the student newspaper from the University of Richmond, provides a unique opportunity to look at state of the art advertising from the major tobacco companies of the period. The advertising was likely influenced by the groundbreaking work of Edward Bernays who published Propaganda in 1928. Here’s an excellent BBC documentary called The Century of the Self which looks at the significant influence Bernays exerted in the fields of advertising and public relations.

The Collegian is unique in my experience for it’s large, half page and 3/4 page size, tobacco advertisements. No other businesses took out so many advertisements nor on such a grand scale. As I was taking photos for this blog, I realized this should be a series of blog posts to do justice to the subject. I was surprised to realize that the advertisements were elaborate campaigns, series of related ads that followed a theme. It is easy to imagine a Madison Avenue advertising agency pitching these campaigns to tobacco company marketers and management.

From Early Years of Cigarette Advertising in the 1930s

From Richmond Collegian, Dec. 2, 1921. This early tobacco ad is typical of early twentieth century advertisements. There are no deep psychological appeals. The message is simply, we have a good cigarette, you should buy it. The advertisement also included the retail price which later ads did not include

Part 1 : Cellophane and Celebrities

The cellophane wrapper to help keep cigarettes fresh was introduced in the early 1930s. Both Camel and Lucky Strike boasted of their new cellophane wrappers, both companies referred to the wrapper as a “humidor pack.”

From Early Years of Cigarette Advertising in the 1930s

Lucky Strike lead the effort to popularize smoking among women, mostly famously by the “Torches of Freedom” campaign carried … read more »

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A Look Back at the Richmond Downtown Expressway

Front page of the Progressive Richmonder from June 1950, a pro-Downtown Expressway specialty newspaper.

Front page of the Progressive Richmonder from June 1950, a pro-Downtown Expressway specialty newspaper.

In our collection we have an unusual one-off edition of The Progressive Richmonder from June, 1950 that was circulated to promote support for the construction of a downtown expressway. The paper was produced by a group identified as the Forward Richmond Highway Committee.

The object of the paper was to convince readers to support a referendum to be held at a Special Election on Tuesday June 13, 1950. The referendum did not propose a specific route for an expressway but was used as a gauge of the public’s support for the idea. The project’s total estimated cost was $29 million. Richmond’s contribution would be about $8 million dollars, with the Commonwealth contributing another $8 million and the Federal Government contributing $13 million.

The reasons given to support the expressway included that it would relieve existing traffic congestion, increase safety, faster travel for Richmonders, economic development (though the phrase did not yet exist, a proponent explained, “Everyone, motorists and all, stands to benefit financially in the long-range expressway planning.”), and scenery, “Landscaping that accompanies the construction of expressways and the building of parkways will add to the city’s beauty.”

Another argument used was that other cities had expressways in their downtown areas. An article cited examples in Detroit, Michigan, Sacramento, California, Houston and Dallas, Texas, and Hartford, Connecticut. It also stated a number of other localities were presently in the process of building expressways, the cities included Boston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

Alternative solutions and complaints by the opposition are briefly mentioned and dismissed. “We are told that the expressway would be an unsightly ditch. But the engineers say that it will be a handsome roadway, mostly at natural ground level, but if below ground … read more »

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