The Temptation of Lucky Strikes: Decoding the Ad

Categories: LuckRhetoricStrikes

Let's take a journey into the world of 1920s advertising, where the "Reach for a LUCKY instead of a sweet" campaign by Lucky Strike cigarettes emerges as a captivating case study. In this exploration, we aim to unravel the subtle allure of this ad, understanding why it resonated with the average American woman of that era. We'll dive into the societal changes, the rise of the "New Woman" post women's suffrage, and analyze how the advertisement strategically tapped into women's desires for independence, attractiveness, and a slender figure.

Throughout, we'll ponder questions about women's awareness of the health risks linked to smoking and how this campaign shaped their perceptions.

Setting the Scene: The Genesis of the "Reach for a LUCKY" Campaign

The "Reach for a LUCKY instead of a sweet" advertisement took its first breath in the lively cultural tapestry of the 1920s. Lucky Strike, armed with the catchy slogan "It's Toasted," crafted a marketing approach that not only flaunted the uniqueness of their manufacturing method but also tantalized consumers with the promise of a more desirable taste.

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This background lays the groundwork for understanding how the advertisement sought to capture the imagination of women in this transformative era.

The "New Woman" Era: Breaking Chains and Lighting Up

With the dawn of women's suffrage in 1920, a seismic shift unfolded in American society. Enter the "New Woman" – not just a voter but a figure embracing newfound freedoms in expression and lifestyle. Shortened skirts, bold makeup, and the audacious act of smoking became symbols of rebellion.

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The featured woman in the advertisement, with her short dark hair and bold makeup, embodies this liberated spirit. The implicit message is clear: smoking Lucky Strikes aligns with this newly liberated identity.

Breaking Down the Advertisement: Seduction in a Puff of Smoke

Focusing on the visual elements, we encounter a confident woman in a string top, baring her shoulders – a provocative choice for the time. Her lips scrunched, as if blowing a kiss, exudes an inner attractiveness. Bolding the word "LUCKY" in all caps amidst smaller font choices is a stroke of creative genius. This typographic strategy doesn't merely highlight the brand; it elevates it. Lucky Strike wasn't just selling the 'health benefits' of smoking; it was vying for brand recognition and distinction. The central figure, exuding strength and confidence, becomes a magnet drawing the viewer into the belief that smoking Lucky Strikes might confer a similar self-assuredness.

Craving Control: "Reach for a LUCKY instead of a sweet"

Within the bright red circle, the tagline "Reach for a LUCKY instead of a sweet" weaves a narrative aimed at a woman striving to maintain her figure. The implied connection between smoking and a slender physique is underscored by the accompanying text, "To keep a slender figure, No one can deny..." – a direct appeal to women's desire for physical attractiveness. The advertisement subtly suggests that when faced with a craving for sweets, traditionally seen as a threat to one's figure, reaching for a cigarette might be the solution. It's a compelling narrative tailored to the sensibilities of women grappling with societal expectations around beauty and weight.

Credibility and Claims: Deciphering "No Throat Irritation—No Cough"

The ad makes a bold claim – "No Throat Irritation—No Cough." While lacking medical endorsement, this statement contributed to the overall perception of Lucky Strikes as a healthier smoking choice. The lack of irrefutable medical evidence did little to dissuade women, who were, at the time, navigating a society increasingly embracing smoking as a fashion statement. Smoking, particularly among women, had become a pervasive trend. The persuasive power of advertisements relied on the visual appeal of a beautiful woman with a cigarette, subtly influencing women to associate smoking with beauty and sophistication.

Effectiveness and Awareness: Unraveling the Paradox

The question looms: Was the "Reach for a LUCKY instead of a sweet" ad effective? Undoubtedly, yes. In the 1920s and well into the 1960s, it wielded significant influence. Did women know about the health risks of cigarettes? The resounding answer is no. The pervasive lack of awareness regarding the correlation between smoking and cancer allowed advertisements like this to thrive. The campaign ingeniously played into women's genuine belief that cigarettes were a miracle solution for weight control, further solidifying its effectiveness.

American Womanhood: Independence, Beauty, and Health in a Puff of Smoke

By appealing to the evolving ideals of American womanhood – marked by independence, beauty, and health – the ad succeeded in tapping into the desires of a specific demographic. It catered to the woman who valued her individualism, as well as her pursuit of beauty and health. Lucky Strike positioned itself as the deliverer of all these aspirations on a silver platter, neatly packaged in each cigarette. This subtle yet potent messaging made the advertisement a triumph in appealing to a woman's reasoning, emotions, and perceived credibility.

Conclusion: A Puff of Influence in the Smoke of Time

As we exhale the narrative of the "Reach for a LUCKY instead of a sweet" ad, it becomes evident that its influence transcended the realms of mere marketing. It encapsulated an era of societal change, capturing the spirit of the "New Woman" and shaping perceptions around femininity, independence, and health. The advertisement's success lay not just in selling cigarettes but in weaving a narrative that seamlessly integrated with the evolving identity of American women in the 1920s.

Updated: Jan 02, 2024
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The Temptation of Lucky Strikes: Decoding the Ad. (2016, Nov 27). Retrieved from

The Temptation of Lucky Strikes: Decoding the Ad essay
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