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Tobacco advertising in cyberspace

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The rocket scientist on the cover was used by Brown & Williamson in 1958 to convey the impression that intelligent and thoughtful people were smokers, and smokers of their Viceroy brand, of course. This campaign, although it ran for only a year or so, had many other finely executed and beautiful variants featuring professionals who each “thinks for himself” and “knows the difference between fact and fancy”: an electrical engineer, an atomic physicist, a newspaper editor, an astronomer, a TV journalist, an anthropologist, an automobile designer, and even a football coach. Also evident is the visible smoke, now an anachronism. This interesting campaign and its richness of variations is just a glimpse of the enormous collection of tobacco advertising assembled by Rick Pollay and now available on the web.

Dr Richard W (Rick) Pollay, a business school Professor of Marketing at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver), was researching the history of advertising, among other topics, when invited to do a content analysis study of cigarette advertising from the 1940s and 50s for the path breaking Cipollone case (New Jersey 1987). The vigour and hostility of the tobacco industry's reaction to his marketing expertise and evidence, and the multidisciplinary nature of tobacco policy issues, provoked him to continue research in this area and to investigate the history of cigarette advertising practices in depth. Over the years this has led to over 100 research work products, including many refereed publications in both his own areas (advertising and marketing) and in tobacco control. He has contributed to multiple Surgeon General's reports—those on children, minorities, and women. He has also been asked to share his knowledge with juries in numerous tobacco trials in both the USA and Canada. This expert witnessing granted him early access to volumes of corporate documents. This collection of advertising examples is a component part of the Tobacco Industry Promotion Series (TIPS) at the History of Advertising Archives where he is the curator. The TIPS holding is a much larger collection which also includes corporate documents, sundry artefacts such as candy cigarettes and tobacco toys, material on the industry's use of public relations, reels of tobacco TV ads, etc.

In April 1999, Dr Pollay donated approximately 8000 slides containing tobacco advertisements, tobacco industry issue ads, and anti-smoking ads to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, with another 2000 donated in 2001. Under the leadership of Dr Michael Cummings, a team of professional librarians has created a catalogue of most of these 10 000 images. Roswell Park will continue to seek new and novel ways to expand this resource through collaboration and collection, including new material compiled by Dr Pollay, by Roswell Park staff, and by other potential collaborators. Please note, however, the contents of this collection are intended for educational, academic, and non-commercial use only. These many US ads can be accessed at the web site: