Monday, June 26, 2017

They'd Never Get Away With It Nowadays

Another reminder, if one were needed, of how much things have changed, even during my lifetime.  The above is a TV commercial for Manikin cigars, from some when in the seventies, which falls into the category of 'they'd never get away with that now'.  Not only can you not advertise tobacco products on TV anymore, but the sheer, naked, sexism of the ad seems, seen today, breathtaking.  Equating the smoking of a good cigar with the pleasure of seeing a semi-naked young woman, (Caroline Munro in this case, who was usually the Lamb's Navy Rum girl when not being chased by assorted monsters and Roger Moore in various seventies fantasy movies), cavorting about some island paradise now seems incredibly crass.  But it was par for the course back in the seventies - the mantra then was that 'sex sells'.  Especially when it came to such masculine accoutrements as cigars.  Indeed, the inherently phallic cigar had long been given an association female sexuality and male dominance.  I well remember, in my childhood, Cuban cigars being said to derive their potency from having been rolled on the thighs of virgins.  (Which was why mother wouldn't let my father smoke them).

But it wasn't just cigars which were advertised by scantily clad women on TV.  I well remember the Sure deoderant ads in the seventies, which featured semi-naked women running around the jungle to demonstrate that the part of their backs sprayed with Sure wasn't perspiring.  Like the Manikin adverts, they were skillfully shot to hint at the possibility of female nudity, without ever showing anything.  Back in the seventies, when the only possibility of seeing nudity on TV was by either watching sub-titled continental art house movies on BBC2, or sitting through the worthy but turgid Play for Today, those adverts seemed hot stuff to adolescent males.   Interestingly, continental TV ads have never had a problem with the odd flash of nipples or buttocks - for some products the commercials we saw in the UK were carefully edited versions of these, with the 'offending' bits removed.   But to return to the Manikin ad, this just one of a whole series of similar commercials which I recall running throughout the seventies.  They succeeded a series of black and white ads from the sixties which again focused on the 'masculinity' of cigar smoking, this time by showing a man doing something 'manly', like driving a diesel locomotive, whilst smoking a Manikin.  This would be accompanied by a voice over saying: "Man, man, man, Man-ikin!"  So much for the sophistication of the sixties.



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