I watch only one half-hour of TV per week--THE SIMPSONS--so I am not really qualified to assert this. Maybe a reader can clarify. Are there such things nowadays as TV ads for ice cream? I think not. In the 1950s, Americans had to be trained to consume luxuries like ice cream. Now we eat it automatically, three times a day! So why waste money on ads?
The none-too-subtle message was that if the doctor, with all of his expertise, chose to smoke a particular brand, then it must be safe. Unlike with celebrity and athlete endorsers, the doctors depicted were never specific individuals, because physicians who engaged in advertising would risk losing their license. (It was contrary to accepted medical ethics at the time for doctors to advertise.) Instead, the images always presented an idealized physician - wise, noble, and caring - who enthusiastically partook of the smoking habit. All of the "doctors" in these ads came out of central casting from among actors dressed up to look like doctors.
Just when you thought the anti-smoking campaign might be working, along comes a news story that proves otherwise. Ardi Rizal, aged two years, has a 40-per-day smoking habit. His mother has tried to get him to stop, especially since the government has offered to buy the family a new car once the child quits, but she says he is entirely too addicted. His father, on the other hand, doesn't see any problem - "He looks pretty healthy to me..." In the meantime, Ardi's health is such that he can't run around and play with the other kids. Instead he rides around on a plastic toy truck while puffing away, looking like a parody of a middle-aged truck driver.
Why can't SpongeBob be as upfront about his nicotine addiction as Fred and Barney? (Note: I created this post prior to its release days ago--and then Boing-Boing scooped me! Oh, well, great minds and all that...)