Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Chesterfield Girls

Tobacco’s long Age of Innocence lasted through the Thirties and Forties when these bright and breezy ads appeared in mass circulation magazines. Smoking was more than just socially acceptable – in the business environment it was probably worth making the effort to smoke to avoid any suspicion of un-American tendencies. Chesterfield was a Liggett & Myers brand that enjoyed great popularity in the last century but has declined in visibility in recent decades. The name was taken, not from the Derbyshire town or the celebrated sofa, but from Chesterfield County in Virginia. In terms of mid-century advertising it was one of the three most publicised brands, along with Camel and Lucky Strike. Many campaigns were visually conservative and might endure, with minor variations for as long as 5 years. Celebrity endorsement and entertainment tie-ins were the default approach but there were occasional departures from trusted formulae when the battle for market share demanded some refreshment of the brand. The promoters of Chesterfield were more open to innovation than their competitors and in 1926 launched the infamous Blow Some My Way campaign that directly targeted the female smoker for the first time. Despite the chorus of disapproval, the female participant did no more than express a fondness for secondary smoking. But once the barriers were down it wasn’t long before women were shown, first holding packs, later with cigarette decorously held between the fingers and finally, irrevocably descending into impropriety with a cigarette between the lips. 

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