Help me track down this cigarette advertisement
January 17, 2019 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Around 20 or 25 years ago, an unusual cigarette ad published in various magazines kind of went viral, in that it created a lot of buzz about what was going on in the picture.

My recollection (which could be fuzzy — maybe it was not even a cigarette ad, but I think it was) is that it consisted of one large (full-page) photo showing a group (six or so) of twenty-somethings sitting around a table where a lot of food and wine had been consumed, like maybe a brunch, everybody obviously having a good time, in a stylish home interior location. Smoking cigarettes. But there was also a guy, again twenty-something, walking past clad in nothing but a towel, or maybe a bathrobe, looking at the group. The buzz was about what this guy was doing there. This was pre-social media; the ad generated some stories at least in the advertising trade press. I don't remember what the brand was. Can you find me an online copy of the ad?
posted by beagle to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Was the slogan something like "let's start a buzz?" Because I remember a series of scooter ads (for, I think, an Italian brand of motor scooters), with that slogan. One of them showed an attractive woman smoking a cigarette with that slogan under it.

I was weirdly fascinated by this ad when I saw it (side of a bus in the Boston area, mid-1990s) because it was just after the time when smoking was being banned everywhere and had gone from acceptable to shameful for most of the public. I remember thinking that the ad did exactly what it said it was going to.

This may or may not be helpful, but I thought I'd throw it out there in case it helped with your search.
posted by bondcliff at 12:34 PM on January 17

Could it have been a Camel ad? I seem to remember a Camel ad causing a stir that long ago, but I don't remember the details.
posted by one4themoment at 1:40 PM on January 17

I distinctly remember this ad being featured in a HS-Level course on advertising techniques when I was in High School in the US back in the late 80's. Definitely a cigarette ad. It was a room full of "sophisticated" people dressed formally, maybe even like a hotel lobby or boardroom - I don't think the setting was a private home because it was so deeply bizarre that some guy in a bathrobe was in the shot. I just tried to google the photo but wasn't able to find it.
The theme of the course was finding subliminal themes in smoking and alcohol adverts and there was a lot of discussion regarding what feelings this image was trying to plant in the mind of the viewer who did not pay close attention, with that odd insertion of a half-dressed man into the situation.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 1:54 PM on January 17

It looks like it's probably this ad from Benson & Hedges. They had a series of "For people who like to smoke..." from the late 80s. That site has a big archive of smoking ads.
posted by skynxnex at 1:56 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]

And since that details page doesn't show the metadata, here's a search result for the ad with the date/info. (Edited to ad, here's another similar-ish ad: hotel encounter?!?)
posted by skynxnex at 1:58 PM on January 17

Skynxnex has it, that's the one. Thanks! I didn't remember the second picture where the guy is interacting with a couple of the guests. Via this search, you can find some other strange situations depicted in the same "For people who like to smoke" campaign.
posted by beagle at 2:13 PM on January 17

(I made that library of tobacco industry docs! What a thrill to see it getting use 20 years after I began that work at UCSF!)
posted by Riverine at 2:56 PM on January 17 [62 favorites]

Related but OT, I remember being fascinated by the cleverness of Silk Cut cigarette advertisements. This was decades ago, when I lived in England.

A quick google image search shows they are still quite creative!
posted by dancing leaves at 4:05 PM on January 17

Apparently the ad was memorable enough to be parodied in Doonesbury a couple years later.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:13 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]

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