LUCKY STRIKE GREEN GOES TO WAR
1942---1943

"Lucky Strike Green Has Gone to War!" was heard over and over on the radio, but seldom seen. There were no magazine ads, posters or billboards produced, only cigarette carton inserts. Six drawings of the US's military might, plus a catchy slogan, made this 1943 patriotic advertising campaign a huge success. A tank and a submarine, motorcycles, a destroyer, a fighter plane, and an AA gun emplacement helped to show off Lucky's new white uniform. Lucky Strike Cigarettes sponsored several radio programs during the war, including Information Please. The program's creator, Dan Golenpaul, decided to go to war with George Washington Hill, the president of The American Tobacco Company, over how often his radio announcer was ordered to use the slogan. Golenpaul felt the constant uttering of the phrase was ruining his show, so he filed a lawsuit against the cigarette manufacturer. Radio listeners taking part in a 1943 Woman's Day Magazine poll voted "Lucky Strike Green Has Gone to War!" one of their most disliked commercials. When questioned why he would annoy his radio listeners, Hill spat on a board room table. After wiping up his spittle with a silk handkerchief, Hill explained that this disgusting episode wouldn't soon be forgotten.
1943 carton insert
George Washington Hill was president of The American Tobacco Company from 1925 until his death in 1946. The 1940's most successful advertising slogan, "Lucky Strike Green Has Gone to War!," was conceived by Mr. Hill while duck hunting on Monkey Island, North Carolina. Several days earlier Richard Boylan, head of purchasing for ATCo, had informed Hill that there was only a three months' supply of green ink available for printing Lucky Strike labels. Chromium, an element which is essential to solid green ink, was a war material in short supply. Boylan told Hill "Just like the soldiers, green ink has gone to war."
1943 carton insert
George Washington Hill knew that the green Lucky Strike package didn't appeal to women, but he needed a reason to change colors. When Hill found out that there was a shortage of merchant ships able to carry war supplies to England and Russia, and that older wood hulled ships were being pressed into service, he had his reason. Copper paint was used to protect the wooden hulls from marine worm damage, and Hill had just learned that copper was an ingredient in the ink needed for the gold bands on the Lucky Strike label. Eureka! George Hill's new "Lucky Strike Green Has Gone to War!" advertising campaign touted the fact that enough bronze (copper and tin alloy) was saved each year to meet the requirements for 400 light tanks, those "speedy battering-rams of destruction!" Lord & Thomas, the Chicago advertising agency that promoted Lucky Strike, received a lot of hate mail because of the patriotic slogan. Critics felt patriotism was being exploited, but Lucky Strike sales did go up dramatically. The "Lucky Strike Green Has Gone to War!" campaign broke about the same time that American troops invaded North Africa in November 1942. Six weeks later, Lucky Strike sales were up 38%.



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*NOTE* All images are copyright by James A. Shaw. Reproduction of any kind is strictly prohibited without prior express written consent...