Sunday, August 15, 2010


I suspect that you are like me in that there are some names that stick with you over a period of many years. Well, the name of George Washington Hill is one that I have remembered for over 55 years when I first heard it spoken in an Advertising & Sales #101 course at the University of Illinois.

George Washington Hill (1884-1946) was the legendary President of the American Tobacco Company who succeeded his father, and led the company to huge success in the development of Lucky Strike cigarette sales. He was responsible for reversing the taboo against women smoking in public, and he is still regarded as one of the country’s most astute advertising practitioners.

Hill, who targeted women with his advertising starting in 1927, included famous film stars and singers. He developed Lucky Strike sales to represent 38% of all U.S. cigarette sales. During the Great depression his company success led Hill to being paid more than $500,000 in salary and bonus and he spent as much as $20,000,000 a year in advertising, which represented an astounding amount at that time. He invested heavily in advertising and sponsored the famous Your Hit Parade and The Jack Benny Show on radio, and sponsored Frank Sinatra, Ethel Smith and Lawrence Tibbett, too.

Other than the fact I enjoyed a career in broadcasting that for many years involved national advertising sales, American Tobacco or Lucky Strike were never handled by an ad agency in my territory. I also never smoked one of their products. I can’t define exactly why his name has stuck in my head all of these years.

What unfamiliar name do you still remember?


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