The multi-billion industry known as big tobacco has been present in almost all aspects of modern life as we know it.
A decade or two ago, tobacco commercials were not banned on television. In fact, they were promoted by the biggest names in the entertainment industry and also by doctors. Yes, you heard right, doctors were advertising smoking on TV as if it was a healthy thing. After some time, there were new laws in place to protect the younger generation from harmful smoking commercials as the smoking epidemic was getting out of hand. But the Big tobacco would not bend their knee so easy.
In fact, in the next couple of years, the tobacco industry shifted their focus from standard commercials into product placement in all kinds of TV programs.
The movie industry and tobacco culture
In the early stages of the TV industry, the tobacco brands started placing their product in the main cultural programs. For instance, the age of the western cowboy shows and movies were littered with Marlboro cigarettes and lucky strikes. They were usually associated with the hero of the movie and as such were held in high regard by the viewers.
If viewers were asked about their thoughts on the cigarettes after the film, they would usually respond that the cigarettes made the hero look more dangerous, badass, and rugged. The product placement has not stopped appearing in movies and TV shows from the time it has been put into motion, but it has declined in some instances.
Kid-friendly shows featured less and fewer heroes who smoked and would be blurred out in the background if a smoking commercial could be seen.
How the tobacco industry made indirect commercials legal?
The tobacco industry took a big hit when they were banned from directly portraying their product in the commercials. Not long after they were hit, they started making an indirect commercial about their product but without the featured model who would light their brand of cigarette.
For instance, Marlboro’s first commercial featured a hard-working man who loved to tinker with his car engine, for some reason he also loved to light smoke while working on it. In those times it was legal to show the model smoking a cigarette during the commercial, but if the same commercial were made today, we would only see a man working on his car and saying that he needs his Marlboro to relax. No box of cigarettes would be placed in the commercial making it legal to associate a hardworking man with the smokes but without directly showing him smoking the product.
There are much more ways the tobacco industry has indirectly placed their products on TV but the more we move forward, the less we will see tobacco ads since the world is fighting this industry and treating it as a disease of the whole human kind.