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Ironically, those opposed to smoking used the very same medium to help kill smoking in public places, restaurants, and even cars when children are present (as is the case in several states now). Smoking and tobacco products are a pariah now - no longer the universal symbol of cool, no matter how much money the companies spend on advertising.
The alcohol and gambling industries, on the other hand, have clearly taken a chapter out of the strife facing the tobacco companies and have done some very consistent things over the course of time. First, gambling and alcohol, all of the vices for that matter, have been connected with the adult world. But it is the "sin" of drink that led to prohibition, and the "sin" of gambling that led most states in the nation to outlaw the practice entirely. While tobacco has been considered to be a public nuiscance and an offense to the senses, it is drinking and alcohol addiction that has been seen to absolutely destroy lives. Advertising now, for alcohol, universally contains warnings about setting limits to the drinking, encouragements to select a designated driver, and to keep an eye out for your friends while drinking. but, this is quite a bit in contrast to how alcohol had been advertised in previous decades and even centuries.
Alcohol advertising, like that of tobacco, was relatively unknown until the industrial revolution made mass production and distribution of beer, wine, and spirits beyond local boundaries possible. While alcohol has been part of human existence from the time that the properties of fermentation and distillation were first discovered in pre-Biblical time, branded products requiring creative, attractive, and compelling advertising would not become important to manufacturers until the late 19th century. After the end of the Civil War, the whiskey, rum, and other grain and sugar alcohol producers found that there was a national audience for their products and, unlike tobacco, distillation was not a simple process of hanging leaves to dry.
Again, advertising stressed quality, ease of consumption, and the health benefits of the product. Political, cultural, and other connections were made with particular products. The whiskey brand, Old Dominion, for example, refers to a nickname given to the Confederate states and their pre-war life - thus making it attractive to the south. So too did products like Jim Beam, Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels - whiskey was a largely southern-associated alcohol (Hemphill, 2002). When television began to be considered a good medium for advertising, alcohol joined in - and advertisements for beer, wine and spirits continue to be popular today. Then, in the 1970's the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States voluntarily banned advertising on television and radio (so as to not risk advertising to children) - gambling and tobacco had no such compunction. However, that ban lasted only twenty years and, in the mid-1990's that self-imposed ban was lifted and the quite iconic campaigns for flavored Stoli (vodka), Captain Morgan's rum, Bailey's, and Tanqueray Gin became part of our national advertising vocabulary again.
Beer and wine ads, however, have never waned. Beer is as much a part of American life as are the sports it is directly married to. Beer, however, like the specific branding of Whiskey, has been targeted at a particular population - men. Wine coolers, Zima, and other flavored alcohol beverages have been clearly targeted at women, and wine advertising has continued to be aimed at the "discerning" consumer. Beer advertisements show lots of average guys and very hot and sexy women associated with a particular brand (Messner & Montez, 2005). These ads tell men, hey, I can be ugly and still get a girl if I drink Bud! Wine, however, is not a constant part of American daily life to the level it is particularly in the Mediterranean countries such as France and Italy. Wine ads have traditionally shown pastoral scenes, romantic encounters, and relatively "fancy" celebrations - they tell consumers that if they want to be considered sophisticated, they should be drinking beer. The effectiveness of this kind of campaigning has shown itself: you don't see Paul Masson or Robert Mondavi advertising at the superbowl, and you don't generally see Beer companies sponsoring ice-skating or the symphony.
Advertising for gambling has a very different, and much shorter, history than either tobacco or alcohol. Gambling became institutionalized in Nevada before the mob discovered Las Vegas. but, it wasn't until organized crime figures discovered that the industries of vice that they had become so skilled at managing, promoting, and regulating could become of national significance as a perk of a particular destination that gambling became an advertising phenomenon. From the 1950's until the late 1980's, casinos in Nevada, New Jersey (Atlantic City) and on sovereign Native American Reservations advertised without restriction in every manner and avenue possible (Messner & Montez, 2005).
The casinos were billed as destination resorts and the "gaming" opportunities as simple and exciting fun to be enjoyed along with big-name entertainment - and these campaigns were hugely successful. The result of advertising on television, radio, and in print resulted in millions of visitors dropping billions of dollars onto slot machines, blackjack tables, and roulette wheels - and then the problem of gambling addiction became a socially significant cause.
As had happened with tobacco, and alcohol, the gambling industry discovered that legislators felt it necessary regulate these advertisements to ensure that they were not targeting children (which was never much of a concern given the fact that children seldom make travel decisions) and that they contained warnings and contact information for gambling addiction. Legislation of vice-advertising has made it so that alcohol and tobacco products may not be advertised on billboards within 300 feet of schools. Laws have prevented the promotion of cigarettes on television. Alcohol cannot be actually consumed or even pretend to be consumed in ads. These and other legislative moves at the local and national levels have resulted in the vice-advertising industry to be severely limited in a way that no other advertising method can be. However, since the advent of the internet, promotion of tobacco, alcohol, and gambling has largely gone entirely unfettered. This is because gambling sites and ad-hosting sites located outside of the United States are not subject to local laws. Therefore, companies who want to promote their product can do so with a fair degree of freedom online.
Vice advertising has always had a struggle - getting people to buy what they don't need and getting them hooked so as to keep them coming back. Every one of these vices is addictive, every one has a treatment program.
Cars, toys, and suntan lotions do not - which makes them easier, but not quite as exciting, to advertise. Advertising vice requires titillation of one or more senses to such a degree that natural disinclination toward involvement in a vice is overcome, and throughout history, the vice-advertisers have successfully done so.
Hemphill, T.A. (2002). A prohibition on advertising?. Regulation 25:1, p8(3).
Messner, M.A. & Montez, J. (2005). The male consumer as loser: beer and liquor ads in mega sports media events. Signs 30:3, p1879(31).
Pritcher, L. (2007) Tobacco Advertising. Duke.edu. Online. Internet. Avail. http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/eaa/tobacco.html. Info Acc: 11 April, 2007.
Quigley, P.H. (2006). Tobacco's Civil War: images of the sectional conflict on tobacco package…[continue]
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