Albert Lasker (1880-1952) is considered by many to be the father of modern advertising. A German native who emigrated to the United States as a child, Lasker was a partner with the firm Lord & Thomas (now called DraftFCB). While with Lord & Thomas, he developed the advertising campaigns that launched several important brands such as Sunkist, Palmolive, and Kotex, Pepsodent. Many of these campaigns have had a lasting impact on the daily consumption habits of Americans (that daily glass of orange juice you have with breakfast is almost entirely Lasker’s doing).
Lasker also pioneered the usage of many adveritising techniques we now take for granted. One of the most important was the incorporation of psychological insight into ad copy. Lasker’s campaign for Lucky Strike Cigarettes is one of his best executions of this technique.
In the late 1920’s, the American Tobacco Company’s Lucky Strike brand approached Lord & Thomas to help them compete with Camel (then the #1 selling cigarette in Amerca). They chose a growth strategy built around increasing Lucky Strike’s appeal to a new demographic - women. At the time of the campaign, smoking was considered by most women to be “vulgar and filthy.”
Lasker’s stroke of genius was identifying a prevailing desire for women to keep thin. By positioning Lucky Strikes as a weight controlling alternative to desserts, Lasker was able to appeal to upperclass women who desired a svelte physique. As a result of the rebranding, Lucky Strike cigarette sales increased from 25 million to 150 million units daily. More importantly the brand became the number one cigarette brand nationally.
Take a look at some of the copy from the original campaigns. Do you think Lasker’s approach has value today?