Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet

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"Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet" is one of the best remembered British advertising campaigns for a tobacco product. It was a long-running campaign for Hamlet Cigars, lasting on television until all tobacco advertising on television was banned in the UK in 1991.[1] They returned in cinemas in 1996, continuing there until 1999,[2] with the final commemorative advert and the modified tagline, "Happiness will always be a cigar called Hamlet."[3]


Commercials used an excerpt from a jazz rendition of Bach's Air on the G String, played by Jacques Loussier and his trio, which is still frequently associated with the brand.[4]

The advertisements featured in television, radio and cinema commercials, various print media, and on billboards. The slogan and the entire campaign was created by the Collett Dickenson Pearce agency in 1966. The premise is that a man finds himself in an awkward or embarrassing situation and lights a Hamlet cigar. Lighting and smoking this cigar makes him smile and forget his woes. The campaign branched out from traditional advertising, even publishing a book of cartoons based on the idea.

A memorable ident featured the 1982 Channel 4 blocks forming the number 5, then rewinding and then forming a jumbled mess, which then turns into a face and then smokes a cigar, making it smile. This advert was played in 1982 to 1989.

These adverts were often mocked, most notably on The Kenny Everett Television Show.

Film Directors[edit]

Numerous advertising filmmakers, including:

Celebrity appearances[edit]

Numerous celebrities appeared in the adverts, including:


The advert was listed as the eighth greatest television advertisement of all time by Channel 4 in 2000. Both the original Channel 4 ident and a Hamlet advert spoofing the ident were made by Martin Lambie-Nairn.[7] Furthermore, the advert was ranked as the ninth greatest advertisement in an ITV list made in 2005[8] and as the third funniest television advertisement ever by Campaign Live in 2008.[9]


External links[edit]