HOLLYWOOD AND BIG TOBACCO’S UNHOLY ALLIANCE: THE TRAJECTORY OF ON-SCREEN TOBACCO PLACEMENTS FROM THE 1920s TO PRESENT DAY

Open Access
Author:
Lingwall, Noah Andrew
Area of Honors:
History
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr. Gary Cross, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Michael Milligan , Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Cigarettes
  • Tobacco
  • Product placement
  • Advertising
Abstract:
By 1970, cigarettes had lost much of the cultural capital that they acquired from the 1920s to the 1960s. More than ever, smoking represented a de-legitimized cultural practice, and cigarette advertising had just been banned from two key advertising media. Cigarette companies found a solution to this problem by drawing upon the time-honored bond between Big Tobacco and Hollywood. For decades, tobacco companies had placed cigarettes in the hands of the era’s most influential stars. Their relationship was a symbiotic one: Film production companies and movie stars benefitted from cash payouts, while cigarette companies enjoyed the opportunity to cement positive cultural associations related to smoking. This thesis provides an overview of this relationship and concludes that by reinvesting in the practice of cinematic product placements (especially in youth-oriented films), tobacco companies successfully re-legitimized smoking and attracted a new generation of young smokers.