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 …
It’s the brand doctors
All commercials are meant to manipulate the viewer, and a great many of them traffic in deception and misinformation. But this one … this crosses over into the outright diabolical.
Because let’s be clear: this commercial may be from the 1940’s, years before governments began issuing warnings against tobacco use, but that doesn’t mean people didn’t know about the health consequences of smoking. Reports linking tobacco use to cancer date back to the frickin’ 18th Century, and even if people ignored the evidence that tobacco specifically was bad for them, they still knew that inhaling smoke was a bad idea.
That’s the whole reason this commercial exists. Tobacco companies saw health concerns about cigarettes as something they needed to quash … and Camel went one step further by implying that their brand alone was the “healthy” cigarette. Legally, they couldn’t say doctors encouraged people to smoke Camels, because even in the 40’s, that wouldn’t fly. But if they bring up how Camels are the most popular cigarette choice among doctors, well, they’d know which brand is best for their health, wouldn’t they?
I’ll admit, I have a perverse admiration for the sheer evil genius of this ad. Not only do they make it sound like doctors endorse their product, but they avoid any mention of why viewers should care what doctors think. Everyone knows cigarettes are unhealthy, but they don’t like being reminded of that fact. Even a hardened smoker might cut down if they hear talk about tumors and tar-coated lungs. So Camel assures viewers that their smokes are the healthy, doctor approved option, while simultaneously going along with the mindset that buries health concerns about tobacco far below the level of conscious thought.
I’ve covered a lot of morally repugnant ads, from pedophilic body wash commercials to ones that use 9/11 to sell mattresses, but this may be the most devious, depraved, degenerate, and devilish of the lot!