Ad Space: What Really Killed the Neanderthals

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Winston’s Cigarettes

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
Hey, kids adults … only adults … no cigarette tastes as good as Winston’s! These cartoon characters said so.

In most ways, this is a pretty basic ad. Score a promotional deal with a popular cartoon franchise, have the characters appear in a commercial, do a little bit of their schtick, all while talking up how great your product is, and Bob’s your uncle.

The trouble is … it’s the Flintstones selling cigarettes!

I’m aware this was made back when there was still a lot of skepticism about how deadly tobacco was. And I’m aware that The Flintstones was more of a family program rather than specifically targeted at kids. But as someone who grew up in the era of anti-smoking campaigns, and in an era where Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble are mascots for all sorts of children’s products (hell, for children’s vitamins), seeing them promote smoking … it feels viscerally wrong. Like if Disney World opened an S&M dungeon.

Though with adult-oriented animation now common, and with marijuana now legal in many states, who knows: we may soon see cartoon characters selling cigarettes again, just a different kind of cigarette.