The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company ran full-page, full-color ads from 1935-1942, all featuring a Santa who stresses that tobacco is above all such an acceptable gift, though he is never pictured smoking himself. R.J. Reynolds, located in Winston-Salem, N.C., ran these advertisements in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Magazine, a long-running campus publication that served as a literary supplement to the Daily Tar Heel, the campus newspaper.
1935: “Of course you’ll give cigarettes for Christmas. They’re such an acceptable gift.”
1937: “A gift of Camels says: ‘Happy Holidays AND Happy Smoking!'”
1940: “No problem about those pipe-smokers on your gift list!”
1941: “More smokers prefer Camels than any other cigarette. And that preference holds for men in the Army, Navy, the Marines, and the Coast Guard, too! So remember those lads in uniform…”
In 1942, another tobacco comopany, the Virginia-based Liggett & Myers, switched their Chesterfield advertising tack focus from glamorous winter women to Santa, perhaps following RJ Reynolds’ success with their campaign.
1942: War Santa urges you to “Send them to the ones you’re thinking of…their cheerful appearance says I wish you A Merry Christmas, and says it well…”
1944: “Your Chesterfield Santa Claus” offers you a a cigarette jovially, while a holly-draped V reminds you to “Say it with Bonds for Victory”.
Then, just as suddenly as they started in 1935, there are no more holiday-themed tobacco ads in the Carolina Magazine. The magazine itself continues until 1948, and various tobacco advertisements still appear, but none are as festive as these.