Strand was a brand of cigarettes produced by W.D. & H.O. Wills (part of Imperial Tobacco), launched in 1959 but withdrawn in the early 1960s. The launch was accompanied by a huge television advertising campaign, You're never alone with a Strand. They also ran advertisements in newspapers offering a free pack of Strand cigarettes if you filled in a coupon and sent it in.
You're never alone with a Strand
This television advertisement depicted a dark, wet, deserted London street scene in which a raincoated character, played by Terence Brook, looking similar to Frank Sinatra, lit a cigarette and puffed reflectively. This was accompanied by an instrumental, "The Lonely Man Theme" by Cliff Adams, playing in the background and a voice-over declared, "You're never alone with a Strand. The cigarette of the moment."
However, sales of the brand were poor and it was soon taken off the market. The public associated smoking Strand cigarettes with being lonely and were put off from buying them. It is regarded as one of the most disastrous tobacco advertising campaigns of all time.
The campaign was parodied in "The Bowmans" an episode of Hancock's Half Hour, where Tony Hancock stars in a series of commercials for "Grimsby Pilchards" with the tagline 'You're never alone with a pilchard'.
Do The Strand, a song by Roxy Music, was based on the advert for the cigarettes.
Ironically, the company went on to rebrand Strand as Embassy. The new TV adverts showed a man at a party, ignored by everyone. He produces a pack of Embassy, starts offering them around and is suddenly the life and soul of the party. The advertising campaign's success can be judged by Embassy becoming the biggest selling cigarette of the 1960s.
- The Commercials at WhirligigTV.co.uk. (includes footage of the commercial)
- UK Television Adverts, 1955-1985: Cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco at Headington.org. Accessed 10 September 2014
- Advertisements" at NostalgiaCentral.com. Accessed 10 September 2014.
- "Off the back of a fag packet" at TVCream.org. Accessed 10 September 2014.