Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!

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A Tareyton magazine advertisement from 1965. In the famous campaign, people from all walks of life (in this example, two red-haired sisters) donned "black eyes" to demonstrate their willingness to "fight" instead of "switch" from the Tareyton brand.

"Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!" is the enduring slogan that appeared in magazine, newspaper, and television advertisements for Tareyton cigarettes from 1963 until 1981. It was the American Tobacco Company's most visible advertising campaign in the 1960s and 1970s.


The slogan was created by James Jordan of the BBDO advertising agency.[1] The first print advertisement appeared in Life magazine on October 11, 1963.[2] The advertisements would appear solely in print between 1963 and 1966. In 1966, the first television advertisements with the slogan aired.[citation needed]

The target of the campaign was to create a sense of loyalty amongst Tareyton smokers. That led to the "rather fight than switch" campaign, in which the makeup the models wore made it seem as if they were sporting black eyes, presumably earned in battles with smokers of other cigarettes.[3]

Television advertisements[edit]

Each commercial would begin in a predictable manner; the protagonist would do something that would be considered defiant (in one commercial, an old woman rocked sternly in her chair on her porch, while the rest of her development was being razed to make room for a condominium). In each commercial, the protagonist would say "Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!", usually only showing their side profile to the camera. After uttering the slogan, viewers would see the smoker's face, which had a noticeable "black eye" (in reality makeup), proving their willingness to fight for what they believed in, whether it be their tough decision of the day, or their choice to smoke Tareyton cigarettes. In the aforementioned example, the old woman's fighting spirit won out, and her house remained where it was, although the condominium was built alarmingly close to her property. Her son came to visit her, and it was revealed that he was a Tareyton smoker as well — he also had a black eye.[4]

Later years[edit]

A Tareyton magazine advertisement from 1980. The new Light version showed the models sporting white makeup instead.

Due to the success of the advertisement, Tareyton briefly enjoyed robust sales, which put them in the Top 10 of all American cigarette brands in the mid to late 1960s.[5] The brand declined somewhat, to thirteenth, when the slogan waned in 1979.[6]

In 1971, radio and television advertisements for tobacco products were banned from American broadcasting stations, and Tareyton's television jingles ended. However, after the ban, the slogan continued to be used in magazines and newspapers, due to the slogan and the name recognition the brand received. In 1975, the slogan was used to advertise for the Tareyton "100".[7]

In 1976, the American Tobacco Company, which made Tareyton cigarettes, introduced Tareyton Light cigarettes. In the new advertisements, men and women sported "white eyes," with an updated slogan: "Us Tareyton smokers would rather light than fight!" The two slogans would be used to sell the two separate variations until 1981, when market value declined.[citation needed]

This slogan was notable in that it was the final slogan used for the Tareyton brand. Declining sales led to an end of advertising the brand.[citation needed]

Cultural impact[edit]

The then-fresh slogan was adopted by supporters of Barry Goldwater during the 1964 campaign for the presidency. Goldwater appeared to have the nomination in hand as the primary season closed, but supporters of the moderate Republican William Scranton tried to mount a "Draft Scranton" reply. "Goldwater Girls" (mostly adult women) were seen at Scranton events wearing bandages and sporting signs saying "We'd rather fight than switch!".[8]

A 1964 single released on the Camp Records label parodied the slogan with the song "I'd Rather Fight Than Swish," using the slang term swish, meaning to behave effeminately.[9]

Thomas "TNT" Todd, a civil rights activist, parodied the slogan to make a point regarding the Vietnam War in a 1967 speech. Todd was quoted as saying, "...Yet our best trained, best educated, best equipped, best prepared troops refuse to fight! Matter of fact, it's safe to say that they would rather switch than fight!" The audio clip of his speech was later used as the prelude to the 1989 Public Enemy single "Fight the Power."[10]


  1. ^ "'60s and '70s Tareyton ads". The Unswitchables. Burnt Offerings. Archived from the original on March 14, 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-02.
  2. ^ "Campaign ad". Vintage and stuff. Vintage& Retrieved 2006-08-02.
  3. ^ Elliott, Stuart (2004-02-06). "James J. Jordan, advertising sloganeer, dies at 73". New Your Times. Archived from the original on 2006-05-07. Retrieved 2006-08-02.
  4. ^ "Tareyton campaign spot". Tareyton Advertisement (1968). Retrieved 2006-08-02.[unreliable source?]
  5. ^ "Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation". Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch Campaign. Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns. Retrieved 2006-08-02.
  6. ^ "History of Tobacco Corporation". The Historian. History Net. Retrieved 2006-08-02.[unreliable source?]
  7. ^ "Tareyton 100 campaign ad". Tareyton Advertisement (1975). Retrieved 2009-02-10.[unreliable source?]
  8. ^ Rick Perlstein (2002). Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus.
  9. ^ Weinberg, Jonathan (2004), Male desire: the homoerotic in American art, H.N. Abrams, p. 135, ISBN 978-0-8109-5894-4
  10. ^ Kalamka, Juba (May–June 2007). "Race Records". Color Lines. Retrieved 2008-06-16.[unreliable source?]