Creepy: 1960s Pall Mall “Girl Watcher’s” Ads


Lucie-Jane sent in some images from a 1960s ad campaign for Pall Mall cigarettes. They were inspired by this book, published in 1954 and written by an ad exec:

This ad features the “white-coated lab-loon”:


Don’t let this girl’s costume fool you. She’s not really a mad scientist. She’s a girl – a real, live girl. It’s just that she has to prove something – to herself and to her family. She has to prove that she has a brain and that, if she ever has to compete with men on their own terms, she can do it – and win. But she really doesn’t want to compete with men. In her heart she wants to attract men and eventually, marry one. The girl watcher should not let this situation disturb him, however. If the girl is watchable, she should be watched, no matter what her motives or ambitions may be. The same thing is true of a cigarette. If it’s smokeable, it should be smoked – and Pall Mall is the most smokeable of all!

Translation: Women who appear to take their studies or careers seriously are just pretending. They want to show that they could have been independent if they wanted to…which they didn’t, because they really wanted to fall in love and get married. If she actually has to end up competing with men, it’s because her marriage plan didn’t work out. Also, a “scientist” and a “real, live girl” are by definition mutually exclusive.

And no matter what women say about it, if you think they’re hot, you have the right – the duty, even – to objectify them all you want.

The “horn-rimmed bookstacker”:


The Bookstacker serves the cause of classical literature in various ways. Perhaps the least of these is in keeping the rows of books properly aligned and the jackets free of dust. Her most important contribution is in improving the environment for study, enhancing the halls of learning with her own classical forms. Many a college man has discovered a previously unfelt craving for knowledge simply because he received his copy of Homer from the hand of a deep-breathing redhead who sighed, “I think Homer is the most!” Yes, it pays to take a good look at the classics now and then. Among cigarettes, Pall Mall is a classic – famous length, fine tobacco…no flat “filtered-cut” flavor, no dry “smoked-out” taste. Try Pall Mall and see!

Translation: Women’s “most important contribution” in the workplace is to be attractive to men so the guys have something pleasant to look at. And it’s ok to lie to girls about your interests and pretend to care about things they like if it might get their attention.

The sign of the amateur:


We are told that bird watchers, who always take notes while they watch, are able to keep one eye on the bird and one eye on the notebook. Eye dexterity of this type is also a great asset to the girl watcher. It enables him to watch two girls at the same time, even when the girls are sitting on opposite sides of a classroom. The beginner, who must watch the girls one at a time in a situation of this type, must learn to restrict his movements to the eyeballs. The girl watcher never moves his head. Undue head-turning, particularly if it is accompanied by shouts or whistles, is the sign of the amateur. (If you want something to shout about, try a Pall Mall!)
WHY BE AN AMATEUR? JOIN THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF GIRL WATCHERS NOW! Free membership card. Visit the editorial office of this publication for a free membership card in the world’s only society devoted to discreet, but relentless, girl watching. Constitution of the society on reverse side of card.

Translation: Ogle as many girls as you can, doubling up if at all possible. But don’t go overboard; it’s ok to stare at women, but don’t make a scene about it. Still, your objectification of women should be “relentless.” Never let up!

Girl-watching includes a requirement that men not be crude while doing it – one must employ sophisticated discretion. Some quotes from the original book, found at Slate:

Although we believe that girl watching has it all over bird watching, we feel that these two hobbies do share one important feature. They are both genteel. They both respect the rights of the watched … A girl watcher never leers, nor does he utter any sound which might betray his joy.
…it is never in good taste to look down after watching a beautiful girl’s face.
[Instructions for girl-watching; you start at the woman’s shoes]: slowly, taking about three seconds, raise your eyes … remembering always not to move the head.

The author of the Slate piece tries out Sauer’s recommended technique. There are new complications:

…a liberated girl may court extended mental admiration in any number of ways-by coquettishly tossing her hair, say, or pedaling a Schwinn while wearing a miniskirt. The contemporary girl-watcher may permit himself an extra moment of wonder or an extra degree of frankness in certain contexts, exercising his best discretion in the matter of how little discretion to exercise.

So Pall Mall is creating a symbolic brotherhood of men united around the objectification of women. This revolves around the belief that all women, no matter what they say, actually want men to be openly attracted to them and want to get married. They are like birds – pretty animals whose stunning plumage you admire, and possibly check off on a list of species you’ve encountered.

As we see so often, masculinity is created around male objectification of women, encouraging other men to participate, and joking with each other as in-group members of a cool club that only (heterosexual) men can join.

Related posts: tobacco and the aristocracy, marketing cigarettes to men, creating brotherhood with Scoal, should a gentleman offer a Tiparillo?, tobacco use as male bonding, cheerleaders get a Brain Makeover, the science of sexy, and if you’re going to be a nerdy girl, be sure you’re hot.

This post originally appeared on the blog Sociological Images. Reprinted with permission.

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