In the 1920s, women didn’t smoke. Or if they did, they were severely judged for it. It was taboo. Like graduating from college or getting elected to Congress, people believed women should leave the smoking to men. Honey, you might hurt yourself. Or burn your beautiful hair.
This posed a problem for the tobacco industry. Here you had 50% of the population not smoking their cigarettes for no other reason than it was unfashionable or seen as impolite. This wouldn’t do. As George Washington Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company, said at the time, “It’s a gold mine right in our front yard.” The industry tried multiple times to market cigarettes to women but nothing ever seemed to work. The cultural prejudice against it was simply too ingrained, too deep.
Then, in 1928, the American Tobacco Company hired Edward Bernays, a young hotshot marketer with wild ideas and even wilder marketing campaigns.
Bernays’ marketing tactics at the time were unlike anybody else’s in the industry. Back in the early 20th century, marketing was seen simply as a means of communicating the tangible, real benefits of a product in the simplest and most concise form possible. It was believed …
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