RJR Nabisco's cartoon camel promotes camel cigarettes to children

JAMA. 1991 Dec 11;266(22):3149-53.


Objectives: To determine if RJR Nabisco's cartoon-theme advertising is more effective in promoting Camel cigarettes to children or to adults. To determine if children see, remember, and are influenced by cigarette advertising.

Design: Use of four standard marketing measures to compare the effects of Camel's Old Joe cartoon advertising on children and adults.

Subjects: High school students, grades 9 through 12, from five regions of the United States, and adults, aged 21 years and over, from Massachusetts.

Outcome measures: Recognition of Camel's Old Joe cartoon character, product and brand name recall, brand preference, appeal of advertising themes.

Results: Children were more likely to report prior exposure to the Old Joe cartoon character (97.7% vs 72.2%; P less than .0001). Children were better able to identify the type of product being advertised (97.5% vs 67.0%; P less than .0001) and the the Camel cigarette brand name (93.6% vs 57.7%; P less than .0001). Children also found the Camel cigarette advertisements more appealing (P less than .0001). Camel's share of the illegal children's cigarette market segment has increased from 0.5% to 32.8%, representing sales estimated at $476 million per year.

Conclusion: Old Joe Camel cartoon advertisements are far more successful at marketing Camel cigarettes to children than to adults. This finding is consistent with tobacco industry documents that indicate that a major function of tobacco advertising is to promote and maintain tobacco addiction among children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Advertising*
  • Cartoons as Topic*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Smoking*