Tobacco Alcohol and Gambling the Evolution of Vice Advertising Term Paper

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Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling: The Evolution of 'Vice Advertising'

Tobacco, alcohol, gambling, all are vices and all get advertised. The amazing thing about vices, both big and small, is that there has always been a demand for them and there always will be, regardless of the fact that they are not necessities - and thus competition between suppliers (brands) can be quite fierce. Advertising, then, has long been the proven best method of increasing the consumption or participation in vice. Vice advertising, for tobacco, is known to be at least two hundred years old. Alcohol and gambling have also been long a part of our cultural history and our economy. Prior to the industrial revolution, however, the difficulties of production and the limits of travel and shipping, made tobacco and alcohol local cottage industries and gambling simply a part of taverns, parties, and gatherings. After the industrial revolution, however, tobacco products (which had largely been hand made) were now able to be mass produced, packaged, and shipped anywhere in the world. Alcohol was no longer the product of a small local distillery, winery, or brewery, but was a product that could be produced on a massive scale and, also, shipped virtually anywhere in any quantity. Gambling, however, would not become truly formalized until the 1940's when organized crime set up shop in Nevada and created the Las Vegas we know today.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Tobacco Alcohol and Gambling the Evolution of Vice Advertising Assignment

Advertising for gambling, however, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Though gambling was considered to be just as much a part of saloon life as alcohol, call girls and music, it was not until the Las Vegas casinos opened that large-scale vice of every kind became popularly advertised as destination for vacations. Advertising of vice has changed along with advertising for every other product and service. Technology, media outlets, and production quality have all had an impact. but, unlike general advertising, vice-advertising is strictly regulated and even banned in a variety of media outlets. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the history of vice-advertising, how it has paralleled and departed from general advertising, and how regulation has shaped the industry.

The big three vices, tobacco, alcohol and gambling, are widely advertised today in a broad variety of media outlets. Additional vices, such as prostitution, continue to be popular with consumers, but they do not enjoy the ability to be advertised on a wide scale. When it comes to these three, however, there are quite significant differences in how each is advertised, and how each is presented to the consumer. When we look at the history of advertising for tobacco, alcohol and gambling, we can see that vice has never needed or wanted to be subtle. You don't find cigarette ads hidden in philosophy or metaphors - you see cool people smoking. You don't beer commercials not showing the beer - you see the people you want to be friends with not drinking their beer, but acting like it's great. You see people young and old having a grand time in casinos showing the kind of excitement gambling, drinking, smoking, and being entertained can be. Vice advertising is, by its nature, about exciting the appetite, about creating a connection between the consumer and the product that overrides moral objections, titillates, and drives desire - much like any other advertisement does. but, unlike other products, vice has a broad and society-wide taboo about it (though those taboos are very mild). They are "adult" products that are prohibited to a broad section of society (which makes them even more exciting to young and old) and they maintain that position through strict legislation that, at least for the tobacco industry, becomes increasingly strict every year. Even as advertising for and public acceptance of smoking has certainly waned over the past two decades, alcohol and gambling continue to be heavily promoted and, particularly in the case of gambling, the activities of smoking and drinking are cross-promoted.

Vice advertising really began once a particular vice could be exported beyond the boundaries of a community, or when a second competing vice-outlet became available. Looking first at tobacco products, one of the first known tobacco advertisements in America appeared in 1789 with ads in a local New York paper (Pritcher, 2007). At that time, there were really only two forms of advertising - taking out space in the local or regional papers (very few of which were weekly let alone daily) or having pamphlets printed and posted in various places throughout the advertising area. Pamphleting, however, was a rather expensive method of advertising and, thus, was not used widely. Newspapers, however, were exceptionally popular among the literate classes and was, then, a method of getting people with a relatively greater level of education than many of their neighbors to go out of their way to get a particular brand of tobacco. Prior to the Civil War and the industrial revolution, advertising was very much a local pursuit of customers. This was due to the nature of the business: tobacco and alcohol products were made by hand in small batches, roads were not extensive between cities, transportation capacity was very small and quite limited, and though neither product has been very perishable, due to the nature of localization, competition was not very welcome (Quigley, 2006). Therefore, advertising was done primarily to make people aware of a product within their community that they would not have to manufacture themselves. Tobacco growers would make their product available on local markets, individuals would buy the dried and prepared tobacco, and then would make their own cigarettes, snuff, or cigars out of them. but, the effort, quality of product variances, and availability opened the door for businesses specializing in production of tobacco products, offering consistencies of experience that home-made products could not match. Pre-made tobacco products would have, at that time, represented a particular level of spending capability of the user. Clearly, a cigarette made by a local manufacturer would be more expensive than making one's own. Therefore, a particular cache would have been associated with the use of name-brand products.

These early advertisements, however, were not about branding, as much as promoting a particular manufacturer. Branding would come just before the Civil War and would be associated with the "best" quality of products - stores would carry a supply of local tobacco, of course, but they would also have a supply of the branded products. Consumers, then, like was the case with so many other products started developing brand awareness - and that was when image, brand name, and competition all started driving sales. Bull Durham brand tobacco, for example, got its name and its popularity at the very tail end of the Civil War when, as legend has it, soldiers from both the Union and the Confederacy alike raided a particular Durham, North Carolina tobacco field and, after the war, wrote to the farmer asking for more (Pritcher, 2007).

What the South learned, perhaps more than any other lesson of the Civil War, was that their nearly exclusively agrarian economy could only supply just so much money and profit to the region while the products they grew became hybrid products they would later buy. Tobacco crops and then large scale tobacco-producing companies were formed and started selling throughout the country - rail allowed that. Advertising, then, started taking a sharp up-turn in the daily and other Newspapers that would be fed by the rail-roads. Any community with a train station and a telegraph could procure tobacco products from any manufacturer. So, branding, advertising, and market research became a critical component of the tobacco industry.

Over time, tobacco advertising, like other products, started using celebrities: sports figures, politicians, actors, and pundits. These icons became directly tied to the product and, as such, if they commanded respect, so did the products they endorsed.

Tobacco use, which only recently has become a stringently regulated vice, became so prevalent that people who abstained or avoided tobacco were considered to be on the fringe - a state that continued until the mid to late 1980's.

Tobacco advertising started taking on mascots, the most famous of which is either Joe the Camel or the Marlboro Man. Both icons represent the kind of emotional, spiritual, or physical connection with tobacco that savvy advertisers want to create - if you are attracted to the icon, you're likely to be attracted to the product as well.

Iconic connections were made, also, through television and movie stars. The Phillip Morris page would appear in many television shows in the 1940's and 1950's to connect that company's products with the stars (Quigley, 2006)

But, over the course of the last two decades, anti-smoking campaigns have resulted in a host of social, legislative, and economic changes that have cut deeply into the pockets of tobacco companies. Desperate for customers, the tobacco companies started lying to the public about the health risks, chemical makeup, and risk of addiction to their products. A popular anti-smoking campaign ( has had a great deal… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Tobacco Alcohol and Gambling the Evolution of Vice Advertising.  (2007, April 11).  Retrieved December 5, 2021, from

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"Tobacco Alcohol and Gambling the Evolution of Vice Advertising."  11 April 2007.  Web.  5 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Tobacco Alcohol and Gambling the Evolution of Vice Advertising."  April 11, 2007.  Accessed December 5, 2021.