Lucky Strike Cigarettes in the Media

A Lucky Strike box can be seen in the opening credits of the Cowboy Bebop movie.

In the early 1960s, Lucky Strike's television commercials featured the slogan "Lucky Strike separates the men from the boys...but not from the girls" set to music. When Luckies with filters were introduced in the mid-1960s, print and TV ads featured the singing slogan "Show me a filter cigarette that delivers the taste, and I'll eat my hat!" Print ads showed smokers wearing hats from which a "bite" was supposedly taken, whereas TV commercials broke away from the smoker who issued that challenge, then came back to show the same smoker wearing a hat with a "bite" out of it.

The Lucky Strike logo was created by famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who also created the logos for Exxon, Shell, AT&T and Coca Cola. The logo later became a prominent fixture in Pop-era artist Ray Johnson's collages.

Lucky Strike Cigarettes was the sponsor of Jack Benny's radio and television programs in the 1940s and 1950s on CBS. Among its popular advertising slogans on the show, as read by announcer Don Wilson, were "LSMFT: Lucky Strike means fine tobacco!" and "Be happy go lucky, be happy, smoke Lucky Strike!" Lucky Strike Cigarettes was also the major sponsor of the BAR Honda team (partly owned by British American Tobacco current owners of the brand) as well as Honda Racing F1 during their maiden year in Formula One before BAT decided to pull out of F1 altogether in the face of increasing anti-tobacco advertising legislation.

The cigarette brand is referenced in many modern games, anime, songs, books and film. Lucky Strike Cigarettes is patronized in the anime Cowboy Bebop, where character Faye Valentine is often seen with one in her mouth. In Eureka Seven, Stoner is seen smoking a pack similar to Lucky Strike Cigarettes in episode 14. The logo also makes prominent background appearances in that show. In the Tom Waits song "Kentucky Avenue", the first-person speaker references his or her "half pack of Lucky Strikes". Lucky Strikes Cigarettes were the cigarette of choice of Rep. Detective Steele in the Blade Runner video game, as well as in the stealth-based video games Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake; Solid Snake's favorite brand of cigarettes are Luckies. In the manga GTO, Professor Onizuka is seen smoking Lucky Strikes. Lucky Strikes can be seen sitting on a piano in a couple scenes in Ralph Bakshi's 1981 animated film American Pop

The fictional character Mike Hammer, as written by Mickey Spillane, smoked Lucky Strike through all of the Hammer novels. Lucky Strike Cigarettes were also featured in the Stephen King movie "Misery" where Paul Sheldon (as played by James Caan) would smoke one cigarette after writing a novel. They are widely smoked in the 2002 miniseries Band of Brothers and are mentioned in George Orwell's account of the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia.

One of the most famous TV smokers of the brand was Detective Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) from hit 80's TV cop show Miami Vice. Throughout the show until the 3rd season, when increasing health consciousness on the part of the American public made smoking less than popular, Crockett heavily smoked unfiltered Luckies. A packet featured prominently in the story 'Calderone's Demise' when Crockett dropped his packet and it was handed back to him.

In the 1994 prison-drama The Shawshank Redemption, Lucky Strikes Cigarettes are used as prison-currency by Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding, to grease the wheels of the intra-prison contraband market.

In 2007 the Lucky Strike brand was featured as a subplot in the first episode of Mad Men, an American television drama about New York Madison Avenue advertising executives set in the early 1960s. An advertising executive struggles to come up with a new advertising campaign under the new stringent United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations about cigarette companies making health and safety claims about their tobacco products. He eventually comes up with the catch slogan "It's Toasted", the same slogan that was conceived in real life by Lucky Strike Cigarettes in 1917 but for purposes of dramatic license it is depicted as being created in 1960 to deflect consumer concerns about health issues.

History of Lucky Strike Cigarettes

The brand was introduced by R.A. Patterson of Richmond, Virginia, in 1871 as a cut-plug chewing tobacco and later a cigarette. In 1905, the company was acquired by the American Tobacco Company (ATC), and Lucky Strike Cigarettes would later prove to be its answer to R.J. Reynolds' Camel.

In 1917, the brand started using the slogan "It's Toasted" to inform consumers about the manufacturing method in which the tobacco is toasted rather than sun-dried. Because of this different manufacturing process, Lucky Strike Cigarettes are said to have a unique and distinctive flavor. The message "L.S.M.F.T." ("Lucky Strike means fine tobacco") was introduced on the package in the same year.

In 1935, ATC began to sponsor Your Hit Parade, featuring North Carolina tobacco auctioneer Speed Riggs. The weekly radio show's countdown catapulted the brand's success and would remain popular for 25 years. The shows capitalized on the tobacco auction theme and each ended with the signature phrase "Sold, American".

The brand's signature dark green pack was changed to white in 1942. In a famous advertising campaign that used the slogan "Lucky Strike Cigarettes Green has gone to war", the company claimed the change was made because the copper used in the green color was needed for World War II. American Tobacco actually used chromium to produce the green ink, and copper to produce the gold-colored trim. A limited supply of each was available, and substitute materials made the package look drab. However, the truth of the matter was that the white package was introduced to modernize the label and to increase the appeal of the package among female smokers; market studies showed that the green package was not found attractive to women smokers who had become an important consumer of tobacco products. The war effort became a convenient way to make the product more marketable while appearing as patriotic at the same time.

In 1978 and 1994, export rights and U.S. rights were purchased by Brown & Williamson. In 1996, filtered styles were launched in San Francisco, but it was not until 1999 that they were available all over the United States.

In late 2006 both the Full Flavored and Light filtered varieties of Lucky Strike Cigarettes were discontinued in North America. However, Lucky Strike Cigarettes will continue to have marketing and distribution support in territories controlled by British American Tobacco as a global drive brand. In addition, R.J. Reynolds continues to market the original, non-filter Lucky Strikes Cigarettes in the United States.

1980-th Lucky Strike

The ad from 1980 again seems innocuous. It sports a young woman wearing a lumberjack type check jacket. On her sweatshirt or jersey one can determine a face, most likely that of an overweight, middle-aged, male. He is looking downwards toward the young womans stomach and genital area. The caption is 'Light my Lucky'. Take into account that there would seem to be 'lettering' on the right cuff of her jacket and again directly underneath the cuff and the caption appears to be a double entendre. These are not very distinct on this reduced illustration and are more likely to be evident on the original ad. Note also the texturing of the rocks at the bottom of the ad alongside the cigarette pack. The allow plenty of scope to construction of the letters S and X once such a topic 'enters ones mind' .

Striking it lucky?

In the same magazine as the Salem and Camel ads discussed above was this ad for Lucky Strike Cigarettes. It is seemingly yet another innocuous ad, simply depicting an everyday scene in a bar. However, note that the individuals displayed are anonymous. In fact, so far as the ad is concerned, as individuals, they are completely unimportant. The woman is apparently simply a sex object for the equally anonymous, smoking, male. Any viewer, male or female could identify with the predatory male or the seductive female. The shape of her left breast is also mimicked by her thrust forward left knee. A 'nice pair' as Gear, Maxim or any other lads magazine would comment. There are also features in the ad that would indicate that the male smoker has apparently just 'struck lucky'. Look at the smoke curling up from his cigarette (see the enlarged section of the ad below). The lower section is quite clearly formed into the shape of a young woman wearing a short skirt. Above this figure there is a 'ball' of smoke and embedded in the ball' are criss-cross shapes that can be interpreted as various sized letters, superimposed upon one another. The most obvious 'letters' are SEX. The overall message of this ad, although oblique and indirect, is clearly intended to indicate to young males that sexual conquest is likely if they smoke Lucky Strike Cigarettes. This message is simply reinforcement of a message that runs across a whole series of Lucky Strike Cigarettes ads. Another Lucky Strike Cigarettes ad can be found on the Gatwick Trilogy page. If one analyses ads such as this, noting the individual elements and features, rather than simply 'taking in' the ad as a whole, there are other semi-subliminal features that can generally be noted. Each feature is calculated to enhance the likelihood that viewers will internalize the key elements of the intended message (or messages). In this case one can also note that to the rear of the young mans left knee, embedded on his jeans, is a 'face' with a large gaping mouth and two beady eyes. The nose is only hinted ad but it is just above the mouth, where a moustache would normally be. This can be taken as a reminder that smoking is an oral activity. Reminders of orality are also common in Marlboro ads. A perceptive viewer might also discern another criss-cross patchwork of 'lettering' above the mouth. The combination of these elements constitute a salutary, if semi-subliminal, reminder that smoking and sex are activities calculated to relieve anxiety and manage moods. And, despite the brand related caption, An American Original, there is nothing original about such an association. Freud and other psychoanalytically inclined researchers noted this many years ago. Their application has always provided advertisers with levers to exploit the fallibility's and weaknesses of potential and actual customers. Their use in semi-subliminal advertising indicates that theories and techniques developed by psychologists and others will now be applied regardless of whether their application it is ethical or note. The ad discussed above seems to be one of a long line of Lucky Strike Cigarettes ads that have incorporated semi-subliminal elements. Illustrated here are two ads shown in Stephen Bayley's book The Lucky Strike Cigarettes Packet by Raymond Loewy. One dates back to 1926, the other is more recent and is dated at 1980. The 1926 ad seems to be pretty innocuous, as is the case with most of these ads. But one simply needs to look more carefully at the different elements of the pattern around the cigarette packet to see that quite a large portion of it is composed of letters. To the top left of the packet is a clear S to the mid right is a clear E. To the bottom left of the pack is an apparent collage of letters. On this reproduction it is not possible to detect a clear X but it seems, nevertheless, that this ad was trying to produce an association between sex and Lucky Strike Cigarettes.

Lucky Strikes Cigarettes

1997 'Lucky Lips' pin-up packs. George Washington Hill was president of The American Tobacco Company from 1925 until his death in 1946. The 1940's most successful advertising slogan, "Lucky Strike Cigarettes Green Has Gone to War!," was conceived by Mr. Hill while duck hunting on Monkey Island, North Carolina. Several days earlier Richard Boylan, head of purchasing for ATCo, had informed Hill that there was only a three months' supply of green ink available for printing Lucky Strike Cigarettes labels. Chromium, an element which is essential to solid green ink, was a war material in short supply. Boylan told Hill "Just like the soldiers, green ink has gone to war." George Washington Hill knew that the green Lucky Strike Cigarettes package didn't appeal to women, but he needed a reason to change colors. When Hill found out that there was a shortage of merchant ships able to carry war supplies to England and Russia, and that older wood hulled ships were being pressed into service, he had his reason. Copper paint was used to protect the wooden hulls from marine worm damage, and Hill had just learned that copper was an ingredient in the ink needed for the gold bands on the Lucky Strike Cigarettes label. Eureka! George Hill's new "Lucky Strike Cigarettes Green Has Gone to War!" advertising campaign touted the fact that enough bronze (copper and tin alloy) was saved each year to meet the requirements for 400 light tanks, those "speedy battering-rams of destruction!" Lord & Thomas, the Chicago advertising agency that promoted Lucky Strike Cigarettes, received a lot of hate mail because of the patriotic slogan. Critics felt patriotism was being exploited, but Lucky Strike Cigarettes sales did go up dramatically. The "Lucky Strike Cigarettes Green Has Gone to War!" campaign broke about the same time that


The beautiful woman who modeled for artist McClelland Barclay's glamorous Lucky Strike ad pictured below, wasn't Miss America. Atlantic City's famed beauty pageant wasn't held 1928 through 1932, but that didn't stop The American Tobacco Company from taking advantage of the popular contest. This striking advertisement was a "thank you" to American women for helping to make Lucky Strike Cigarettes the US's best selling cigarette in 1931. McClelland Barclay (1891-1943) was a popular illustrator whose paintings of handsome men and gorgeous chiffon-clothed women were often used as the covers of The Saturday Evening Post and The Country Gentleman magazines. This talented artist and naval officer died during World War Two when a Japanese torpedo sank the ship that he was aboard.

BE HAPPY...GO LUCKY (1996-2008)

The two beautiful sets of Lucky Strike Commemorative Cigarettes pictured below, were made in Holland. Manufactured by British American Tobacco, the striking 1996 Limited Edition set, and the 1997 'Lucky Lips' pin-ups, are handsome additions to any pack collection.