In 1988, the character Joe Camel was introduced to the public as a ploy to raise the diminishing sales of the Camel brand, which has been around since 1913. The campaign took the country by surprise because it played into the autonomous ego of the American male. "Joe was a confident and cool camel, who represented something that the American males aspires to become". This camel had a very high self-esteem and did all the activities that were traditionally associated with males. Joe Camel "soon became the embodiment of the American Adventurer".
Joe Camel was portrayed as an outdoorsman, a race car driver, a roguish gambler, a rock ban manager, and an Airforce fighter pilot. With all these activities under his belt, it is no wonder that the sales of Camel Cigarettes surged after he was introduced. It seems as though this Joe Camel campaign did exactly what Virginia Slims did when they first came out in the late sixties with the slogan, "You've come a long way, babe." Cigarette usage might have been on the rise among teenage boys like it was among teenage girls in the 1960s when Virginia Slims cashed in on their emotions. Unlike the girls of the 60s, the teenage boys might have been trying to look cool to their peers.
Being associated with the Joe Camel character might have automatically connected teenage boys with the activities that Joe carried out in his advertisements. If smoking could make an animal look cool, imagine what it could do for a human. Piggy backing on the low self-esteem of teenage boys, Joe Camel became a cultural icon in the late eighties and the early nineties. This character represented everything that America stands for: freedom of expression, personal liberty, and the pursuit of the American dream.
In the first advertisement that I have, the man reminds me of the character Author Fonzarelli (Fonzi) from the television show "Happy Days". He is wearing low cut washed out denim jean pants with a tight white tee shirt tucked into his jeans. In the sleeve of the shirt is a pack of Camel cigarettes as they did back in the fifties. There is nothing in the picture but the model and his belongings. The background of the advertisement is a blue green that reminds me also of the diner where Fonzi usually hung out. His hair also reminds me of something out of the fifties because it is combed the same way that Fonzi combed his. The sides are all slicked back with grease/moose, with the front sticking out in a little bang. Though the theme of the advertisement is the fifties, I could not help but to notice the beeper that is attached to his pants waist.
The next advertisement that I found for Camel is of a sailor coming home or leaving home. We can see that there is a journey involved because he is carrying a sack of clothes. There is a woman in this picture; she is lighting the cigarette in the sailor's mouth, as he cannot do it while holding his sack of clothes. This picture also dates itself through the lady's hairstyle and the clothing that they are wearing. The only thing that we can see of the lady's outfit is her shirt but the sleeves resembles those of the women in the fifties/sixties. The sailor's outfit is not that of modern day sailors. He is wearing a black/navy pea jacket with a white tee shirt underneath. His hair, under his white sailor hat, also reminds me of the fifties/sixties with the peak at the front. In this advertisement, the sunglasses that the sailor is wearing are something from modern day society.
The third Camel advertisement I found is one of a clean cut Colombo type detective. He is wearing a white button-up shirt, a black tie, brown raincoat, and a gray hat with a black ribbon on it. The collar of the raincoat is standing up in the back, as that is something that was commonly done in the fifties. Though there is nothing specific about this ad that says the fifties, anyone familiar with that time period knows its essence is present in the picture. The model is holding a burning cigarette, smiling as if he is enjoying the cigarette with a glimmer in his blue eyes. His blue eyes match the background of the picture. The earring in the picture suggests something modern, as piercing was this is something that was not done in the fifties.
The fourth and final Camel Advertisement is something straight out of an Indiana Jones picture. You have two men, one with a cigarette in his mouth and the other wearing the Indiana Jones type hat, both in an oversized pot supposedly cooking. There are five ladies: the two with dark hair are holding the men in the pot and the three blondes are seasoning the contents of the pot. This scene is taking place in a forestry area, obviously referencing the kitchen of the forest. It is difficult to tell if the ladies are trying to cook the men or save them. We know that they are trying to cook them but the expression on the men?s faces tells the audience that they are enjoying it. In the corner coming out from behind the Camel cigarette box is:
VIEWERS DISVRETION ADVISED:
HW - HUNGRY WOMEN
HS - HOT GUYS
MS - MAN STEW
This warning is found in bold capitalized letters coming out of what looks like a movie ticket.
In the first three advertisements, the phrase "Pleasure to Burn" is repeated in the top center of the picture with the cigarette brand Camel written above it. This is to say that the brand brings pleasure to the man who smokes this brand. Camel can bring a smile to the faces of the most masculine of men. In a way this is Joe Camel living through the bodies of men. In these ?modern? advertisements for Camel Cigarettes Joe is the sailor, the cool guy, and the detective. For the fourth advertisement, however, we did not need to logo attached to the picture because it was obvious that these men we getting pleasure out of the heated torture that the ladies were giving to them.
On the left is a picture from the 1988 campaign for Joe Camel. On the right is a parody for Camel this character is called Joe Chemo.