Winston tastes good like a cigarette should
"Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" is an enduring slogan that appeared in newspaper, magazine, radio, and television advertisements for Winston cigarettes from the brand's introduction in 1954 until 1972. It is one of the best-known American tobacco advertising campaigns. In 1999, Advertising Age ranked the jingle eighth-best out of all the radio and television jingles that aired in the United States in the 20th century.
The deliberate use of "like" rather than "as" was provided by advertising agency William Esty Co., and the overall campaign was directed by Esty executives Wendell Adams and Arline Lunny, Lunny serving as producer/director of most of the visual and recording production related to the campaign in its initial years. Adams was a classically trained musician in his own right, but singer/model/pianist Margaret Johnson ghost wrote the jingle and, along with her husband, Travis Johnson, recorded it with their group, the Song Spinners. Johnson's insertion of the two quick hand claps before the word "cigarette" caught America's ear by surprise and had much to do with the jingle's success. (A second Winston jingle by Johnson, using the folk tune "Skip to My Lou", has faded into obscurity.)
A catchy jingle and ad campaign, it has come to embody a piece of Americana, and has even seeped into the consciousness of people who were too young (or not even alive) to remember the campaign when it occurred. The slogan was so well-remembered that it was added to Simpson's Contemporary Quotations in 1988.
Future R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company president Bowman Gray Jr. was in charge of marketing Winstons, which were a new addition to the R.J. Reynolds line in 1954. Gray listened to advertising employees from the William Esty Co., and the slogan "Winston tastes good like a cigarette ought to" was considered, then replaced by the more succinct "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should."
The first print ad appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in September 1954, with an ad in Life following the next month. In 1955, Winston would take over as the sponsor of Walter Cronkite's news show, as well as Garry Moore's variety show; it was at this time that the first television advertisements aired.
Radio and television
In the radio and television advertisements, the slogan is presented in a singsong fashion with a noticeable two-beat clap near the end, so the jingle would sound like Win-ston tastes good like a (clap clap) cigarette should. The "clap" noise was sometimes substituted for actors in the commercials knocking twice against a truck carrying Winston cigarettes, or an actor flicking his lighter twice to the same conceit.
Winston cigarettes were sponsors of such television series as The Beverly Hillbillies and The Flintstones. The former series would show stars Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, and Nancy Kulp extolling the virtues of Winstons while smoking them and reciting the jingle. The latter series would later come under fire for advertising cigarettes on an animated series watched by many children, but Winston pulled their involvement with the series after the Pebbles Flintstone character was born in 1963.
During the campaign's long run in the media, many criticized the slogan as grammatically incorrect and that it should say, "Winston tastes good as a cigarette should." Ogden Nash, in The New Yorker, published a poem that ran "Like goes Madison Avenue, like so goes the nation." Walter Cronkite, then hosting The Morning Show, refused to say the line as written, and an announcer was used instead.
Malcolm Gladwell, in The Tipping Point, says that this "ungrammatical and somehow provocative use of 'like' instead of 'as' created a minor sensation" in 1954 and implies that the phrase itself was responsible for vaulting the brand to second place in the U.S. market. Winston overtook Pall Mall cigarettes as the #1 cigarette in the United States in 1966, while the advertising campaign continued to make an impression on the mass media.
In the fall of 1961, a small furor enveloped the literary and journalistic communities in the United States when Merriam-Webster published its Third New International Dictionary. In the dictionary, the editors refused to condemn the use of "like" as a conjunction, and cited "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" as an example of popular colloquial use. After publication of Webster's Third, The New York Times called the edition "bolshevik," and the Chicago Daily News wrote that the transgression signified "a general decay in values."
When the players in The Beverly Hillbillies spoke the line, they stretched the grammatical boundaries further:
- Jed: Winston tastes good...
- Granny: Like a cigarette had ought-a!
In 1970 and 1971, Winston sought to revamp its image and chose to respond to many grammarians' qualms with the slogan, "What do you want, good grammar or good taste?" Mad magazine published a parody of this on the back cover of its January 1971 issue; set in a cemetery, it featured four tombstones with epitaphs written in the past tense ("Winston tasted good like a cigarette should've" "You mean 'as a cigarette should've'" "What did you want, good grammar or good taste?" "I wanted to live a lot longer than this!"). With the new slogan in wide use, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" was retired permanently in 1972.
In 1981, actor James Garner claimed responsibility for the wording of the slogan during an interview with Playboy magazine. Garner, who narrated the original commercial, stated that his first action ever to be captured on film was to misread the line that had been provided to him. However, as noted above, the advertisements first appeared in print before their debut on television, which would cast doubt on Garner's claim.
- "Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!"
- Legacy Tobacco Documents Library Multimedia Collection
- "Top 10 Jingles of the century". Advertising Age. AdAges.com. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
- "Something Wonderful Happens. Winston Tastes Good-Like A Cigarette Should! Ad Notebook.". Anne Landman's Collection. Tobacco Documents Online. April 1963. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
- "Winston advertisement featuring African Americans". Retrieved January 7, 2016.
It's what's up front that counts
- "Simpson's Contemporary Quotations, #2482". Simpson's Contemporary Quotations. Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved 2006-07-17.
- "Winston beginnings". JournalNow. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
- Examples of the "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" marketing campaign, various magazines, 1955-1969.
- "Expert says tobacco pitched ads to young smokers". CNN Interactive. Archived from the original on May 12, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
- "Winston Tastes Good, Like a Cigarette Should (original spot featuring the Flintstones)". VideoSift. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
- Billy Ingram. "Cigarette Advertising on TV". TVparty!. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
- Thomas Parrish (2002). The Grouchy Grammarian: A How-Not-To Guide to the 47 Most Common Mistakes in English Made by Journalists, Broadcasters, and Others Who Should Know Better. Wiley. pp. 155–156.
- Garrick Utley (2000). You Should Have Been Here Yesterday: A Life Story in Television News. PublicAffairs. p. 4. ISBN 1-891620-94-0.
- Malcolm Gladwell (2002). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Back Bay. p. 25. ISBN 0-316-34662-4.
- Edward Finegan (2004). Language in the USA: Themes for the 21st-century. Cambridge University Press. Foreword. ISBN 0-521-77175-7.
- "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should". Historical Winston Ads. James A. Shaw. Archived from the original on March 14, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-16.