Monday, October 5, 2009

Vintage motorcycle was best part of ad

Royal Enfield motorcycles show up in a variety of advertisements but the motorcycle shown in a famous Camel cigarette ad is probably some other vintage bike. Is that a partly obscured Indian head logo on the tank?

The ad is from about 1982-'84 and was one in a series showing the same curly headed man in adventure settings. Often he was pictured with great vintage transportation: a sailboat, a Jeep, a float plane, or a river raft. He was generally shown lighting up, and the tag line usually was "Where a man belongs."

The ad series is often cited in discussions of marketing cigarettes to men. Camel Man is usually judged to be not up to Marlboro Man standards. Importantly, I think, Camel Man was never shown with a horse. His transportation burned gas, not hay.

I'm not a smoker and I didn't care for the curly headed fellow. He always looked too cheerful and recently bathed to actually be up to his waist in a jungle river pulling a raft by a rope. That wasn't the kind of activity I associate with smoking, anyway.

But I loved the stuff he had, especially that motorcycle. Even if he didn't look cut out for adventure, it certainly did.

Camel Man was replaced by the Joe Camel cartoon, controversial because, as a cartoon, it might have appealed to children. You could not accuse Camel Man of appealing to anyone who didn't at least have a driver's license.

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