Posts tagged with "cigarettes"



07. November 2022
In November 2022 the Chinese government issued new regulations for celebrity related advertising. Among others the updated rules prohibit celebrity endorsements of medicines, off-campus education and – finally - tobacco. What sounds fairly reasonable for today’s standards actually took the authorities over a century to crack down on: the practice of Chinese singers and movie stars unscrupulously peddling cigarettes goes back to the early 20th century and, as we will see, sometimes even with...
10. October 2022
A stunning Chinese “My Dear” post-war color ad from 1946 with a voluptuous brunette bombshell on the beach, modelled after the prevalent 1940s US pin-up style popularized for and by the G.I.’s overseas. From the MOFBA collection.
My Dear, or Měilì (美丽牌) meaning “beautiful” in Chinese, was the most popular Chinese cigarette brand out of Shanghai during Republican China. Since its inception it was famous for the attractive, confident and modern “new women” featured in its advertisements, ubiquitous across billboards, magazines and newspapers. Its Chinese slogan 有美皆备,无丽不臻 literally means “everyone wants the beauty because without beauty there is no completeness” but in more creative...
22. August 2022
Hatamen brand cigarette cards depicting early 20th century Chinese beauties. Such trading cards were inserted in cigarette packaging as collectibles to drive brand loyalty.
07. August 2022
Yuen Kiang cigarettes advertising poster by Taiyuan Jinhua Cigarette Factory. From the MOFBA collection
In the autumn of 1930, the national government of Shanxi province established the Jinhua Cigarette Factory (晋华卷烟厂) in the city of Taiyuan by merging several smaller private tobacco producers. The state-owned enterprise produced cigarettes throughout the 1930s until November 1937, when the Japanese army occupied Taiyuan and took over the operations. It remained active under the name “No 13 Factory” until the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War after which it was nationalized again...
03. August 2022
A Pinhead brand cigarette pack sold in China under BAT post-1902. From the MOFBA collection
Pinhead was the first US American cigarette brand introduced in China. Its manufacturer was W. Duke, Sons & Co founded in 1871 by Washington Duke in Durham, North Carolina. As early as June 1882 W. Duke and Sons sent their salesman Richard H. Wright on a nineteen-month tour around the world to place their company’s tobacco in key export centers and its products may have already reached China by then.
06. June 2022
A kerosene lamp branded by Lockwood Bros, Pampa, Sheffield and Shanghai Rex & Co (公发英行 - "Kung-Fah" ). From the MOFBA collection.
22. May 2022
The brand by British manufacturer W.D. & H.O. Wills was one of the first machine-made Western cigarettes introduced to the Chinese market in the late 20th century. When British American Tobacco (BAT) was formed in 1902 it took over all the assets and brand rights for China from Wills and would turn Ruby Queen into one of the most recognized and successful tobacco brands in the first Republic of China. At one point in the 1920s Ruby Queen would even become the second most popular cigarette...
11. April 2022
Cycle brand cigarettes Chinese "beautiful girl" advertising poster. From the MOFBA collection
The Cycle brand was created in the early 1900s during the days of the American Bicycle Boom - a no-brainer for Big Tobacco to associate itself with the corresponding health benefits. In China Cycle was distributed by Enterprise Tobacco Co, Ltd. (和泰烟有限公司), part of the British American Tobacco (BAT) cigarette behemoth. The Chinese name is a direct translation using the now old-fashioned term 自由车, which translates to any sort of bike but comes with a nice spin as the literal...
04. April 2022
The mysterious toasted (烤) symbol. From the MOFBA collection
"Sometime ago a foreign company, started a vast million-dollar campaign to boost its brand into the Chinese market. For months there appeared not only in all papers but also in Chinese general storekeepers, restaurants, theatres, and public amusement grounds large advertisements depicting a ponderous Chinese character (烤) with a circle encircling it. There was no effort to explain that lone character (烤), which stood for "toasted", and led one to wonder whether it was meant for toasted pork...
03. March 2022
414 Cigarettes Chinese advertising poster with Western pin-up girl, 1947. From the MOFBA collection
In Chinese culture certain numbers such as 6 or 8 are widely believed to be auspicious or lucky while others are considered unlucky. The pronunciation of the number 4 in Mandarin for example is similar to the word for death and thus the number is considered unlucky and avoided when and wherever possible. The unluckiest number of all however is 14, which sounds similar to “going to die” or “you will die”. The belief in numerology traditionally is so deeply engrained that even today many...

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