The Fascinating History of Old Gold Cigarettes
Old Gold cigarettes have a rich history that dates back to their introduction in 1926 by the Lorillard Tobacco Company. Over the years, this American brand has become synonymous with quality and innovation in the tobacco industry. From its iconic advertising campaigns to its enduring popularity, Old Gold has left an indelible mark on the cigarette market. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of Old Gold cigarettes, exploring their rise to prominence, advertising strategies, controversies, and their enduring legacy.
The Rise of Old Gold
Old Gold cigarettes quickly became one of Lorillard’s star products after their release. In the 1930s, with the help of a memorable advertising campaign featuring exuberant flappers and the slogan “Not a cough in a carload,” Old Gold captured 7% of the market. The brand’s popularity continued to grow throughout the decade, especially among young people targeted through radio advertisements during music programming.
In 1941, Lorillard entrusted the Old Gold account to J. Walter Thompson Co., which revamped the brand’s slogan to “Something new has been added.” This marked a turning point in Old Gold’s advertising strategy, paving the way for future innovations in promoting the brand.
Old Gold made a name for itself with its innovative advertising campaigns. In the 1950s, the brand gained recognition for its dancing cigarette packages, featuring women wearing white boots and tapping in time to an Old Gold jingle. This unique visual spectacle captured the attention of audiences and set Old Gold apart from its competitors.
Lorillard also made strategic decisions to allocate a significant portion of its advertising budget to Old Gold. In 1957, the brand received a considerable share of Lorillard’s $20 million advertising budget, second only to Kent. This investment in advertising helped solidify Old Gold’s position in the market and attract a loyal customer base.
Expanding the Product Line
Old Gold continued to evolve its product offerings to cater to changing consumer preferences. In 1953, Lorillard introduced king-size Old Gold cigarettes alongside the standard brand, providing options for smokers who desired a larger format. The following year, the company introduced a filtered variety, further expanding the choices available to consumers.
In 1958, Old Gold introduced Straights with reduced tar and nicotine levels, responding to growing concerns about the health risks associated with smoking. This move demonstrated Old Gold’s commitment to meeting consumer demands and staying ahead of industry trends.
Controversies and Challenges
Old Gold faced its fair share of controversies throughout its history. In 1942, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Lorillard for misleading advertising claims. The company had stated in Reader’s Digest that Old Gold cigarettes contained lower levels of nicotine and throat-irritating tars and resins compared to other leading brands. The FTC challenged these health claims, emphasizing the need for substantiated evidence in advertising.
In the 1950s, as studies began to link smoking with lung cancer, Lorillard faced the challenge of addressing public concerns. Old Gold responded with Halloween-themed advertisements that downplayed the health effects of smoking. These ads aimed to reassure consumers with slogans like “We don’t try to scare you with medical claims… Old Gold cures just one thing… The World’s Best Tobacco.” Despite the controversy surrounding these campaigns, Old Gold remained a popular choice among smokers.
The Changing Landscape
As the tobacco industry landscape shifted, so did Lorillard’s advertising strategies. In the 1970s, Congress banned all tobacco advertising on TV and radio, forcing companies like Lorillard to adapt. In response, Lorillard introduced Maverick, its first new full-flavor cigarette since Old Gold. The company also explored alternative forms of advertising, such as placing advertisements for Kent and True in paperback books.
However, by the mid-1970s, Lorillard ceased advertising Old Gold, marking the end of an era for the brand. Despite this, Old Gold cigarettes continued to be manufactured and remain available in the United States, albeit in limited quantities.
Legacy and Pop Culture References
Old Gold’s impact on popular culture cannot be overlooked. The brand made appearances in various forms of media, leaving an imprint on the collective memory of audiences. In an episode of the critically acclaimed television series “Mad Men,” the character Don Draper is seen smoking Old Gold Straights, reflecting the brand’s presence during the 1960s.
Furthermore, Old Gold’s association with American baseball legend Babe Ruth adds to its iconic status. In one of the brand’s advertisements from the 1920s, Babe Ruth endorsed Old Gold cigarettes, emphasizing their mildness and smoothness. This endorsement from a sports icon solidified Old Gold’s reputation and contributed to its lasting legacy.
Old Gold cigarettes have stood the test of time, leaving an indelible mark on the tobacco industry. From their rise to prominence in the 1930s to their innovative advertising campaigns and enduring popularity, Old Gold has cemented its place in the hearts of smokers. While the brand’s advertising strategies faced controversies and challenges, Old Gold’s legacy lives on through its association with popular culture and iconic figures. As the tobacco industry continues to evolve, the story of Old Gold serves as a reminder of the rich history and enduring appeal of cigarette brands.