From a Bygone Era: Sports in Pipe & Tobacco Advertising

by Micah Redmond

From a Bygone Era: Sports in Pipe & Tobacco Advertising

Every year, as summer gives way to autumn we find ourselves in the part of the year in which sports fans rejoice. The  Major League Baseball season is wrapping up with the playoffs and World Series and new seasons of college and pro football, basketball, and hockey are beginning. Anybody who spends any time watching sports is very aware of the presence of advertising. Whether it's the billboards lining the walls of stadiums or the countless athlete endorsed product commercials, advertising is everywhere. As a person interested in design, illustration, etc, I pay attention to some of these ads and I often go looking for ads from past eras. The approach to design in advertising has changed significantly over the years and we don't often see the beautifully illustrated ads with hand drawn typography that were the norm through the 1960s. Being that I'm also interested in pipes I like to look up pipe and pipe tobacco ads from the early and mid-20th century from time to time and on a recent foray I noticed an interesting trend in pipe and tobacco advertising. There used to be a lot of tobacco advertising involving sports and professional athletes.

Living in an era of widespread anti-tobacco sentiment and legislation, tobacco advertisements are exceedingly rare, especially when it comes to sports. Athletes are now held in esteem as examples of the virtues of healthy living. Once upon a time, though, athletes were happy to endorse pipes and tobacco products in a way that seems incredibly anachronistic now. I found that pipe and tobacco ads using athlete endorsements were pretty common for many decades. Many of these ads are perfect examples of their respective design styles but they also provide an interesting context in which to view societal and industry changes surrounding tobacco. The politics of all of that is a talk for another setting, but I thought I would share some of the advertisements that I found and hope that you find them as interesting as I do, whether it's from a historical, design, or political perspective.