Joe Camel: Postmortem of a brand spokesperson

Marc G. Weinberger

University of Massachusetts

Harlan E. Spotts

Western New England College

Ereni Markos

Quinnipiac University

Introduction

The 11th of July 1997 was a historic day, for it was the day that one of the most controversial figures in advertising history died; Joe Camel was no more. Some members of social advocacy groups may have been euphoric, celebrating a victory in their war on tobacco and teenage smoking. Others within the industry lamented the demise of Joe, a celebrity who was responsible for transforming the Camel cigarette brand from ‘old-fashioned and stodgy’ to ‘modern and cool’. While Joe was a prominent figure in the advertising and tobacco industries, he had a relatively short career. Born in 1974 in France, he emigrated to the US in 1987 when Trone Advertising of Greensboro, North Carolina, tapped Joe to become the face, and saviour, of Camel cigarettes. The rest, as they say, is history …