Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smokes During Wartime: Hellcats, Kittens, Kisses... and Kools

W.W.II must have been a cigarette marketer's dream. Who wouldn't want to be like Teddy Kenyon, Camel-smokin' Hellcat pilot?

And I know newspaper comic strips were tremendously popular with all ages back in the 1940's, but Camel's comic strip ads must have been particularly alluring to the younger set...

This bit of copywriting below made me smirk. Camels chose a strong female as their celebrity endorser for this ad, but pointedly reinforced that their product is "the Navy man's cigarette." We wouldn't want all those tough-guy smokers out there thinking that Camels are for dames!

By contrast, you'd never know there was a war going on from the looks of Fleetwood Cigarettes ad campaign.

Old Gold ran an amusing series of ads always featuring servicemen and their gals engaged in "I Love Lucy" - style comedic hijinks. Though usually unsigned, a previously presented Old Gold ad by Dorothy Monet can be seen here.

And let's not forget "Willie" the Kool Penguin. Willie wore many hats during his long career as a product mascot... and during "the good war" he pitched in to sell war bonds as did most every cartoon character from Mickey Mouse to Bugs Bunny.

Willy survived the war - but not the "Summer of Love". By the 1960's Willie's ever-diminishing role in Kool ads blinked out. I wrote a humorous post about Willie's demise back in 2006 .

* My "Smoking!" Flickr set

* Speaking of W.W.II pilots, our own Charlie Allen has a brand new CAWS posted over at Charlie Allen's blog. be sure to check it out!


  1. Smoking & carrying around an artillery shell?
    Willy's lucky he made it as far as the '60's.

  2. Anonymous5:39 PM

    great posts as ever...
    hopefully in the future we will look back with similar incredulity at the ad behavior encouraging us to get in to our stinky cars, go and buy some sickness inducing "food" and then gulp down a bunch of pills to try and make sense of it all. here's a hopin'

  3. My cat is down to half a pack a day. Those last few are always the hardest to kick, eh?