Winston tastes good like a cigarette should
"Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" is an advertising slogan that appeared in newspaper, magazine, radio, and television advertisements for Winston cigarettes, manufactured by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Reynolds used the slogan from Winston's introduction in 1954 until 1972. It is one of the best-known American tobacco advertising campaigns. In 1999, Advertising Age included the "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" jingle in its list of the 10 best radio and television jingles in the United States during the 20th century.
Advertising agency William Esty Co. deliberately, and ungrammatically, used "like" rather than "as" in the slogan and jingle. Esty executives Wendell Adams and Arline Lunny were in charge of the overall campaign. Lunny produced and directed most of the campaign's content during its early years. Although Adams was a classically trained musician, Margaret Johnson (a singer, pianist, and model) ghost wrote the jingle; Johnson and her husband, Travis Johnson, recorded it with their group, the Song Spinners.
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 casts doubt on Garner's claim.
- "Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!"
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- Utley, Garrick (2000). You Should Have Been Here Yesterday: A Life Story in Television News. New York:: PublicAffairs. p. 4. ISBN 1-891620-94-0.
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- "Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should" (Video). 2008 – via YouTube.