Thursday, February 15, 2007

Camel No. 9

I’d walk a mile in my Manolo’s for a Camel No. 9!

That’s how the Camel cigarette company is hoping girls and young women respond to their new package. The made-for-Venus-by-Martians packaging reminds me of old black vinyl ballet shoe cases, which carried the near fetishized imprint of satiny pink toe shoes and ribbons, and of little girls' lunch boxes. These were themselves modeled on travel make-up cases and purses of adult women, so elegantly black outside and youthfully pink inside. Pink and black were also popular back then as the colors of tile in ladies’ bathrooms. Or, as in a black hat box lined in pink tissue, like a dainty coffin, opening to the lingering scent of Chanel No.5.

The minty green brings to mind the frothy Rococo boudoir paintings of Fragonard and Boucher; “Light and luscious”, just like the ladies' Camel cigarette slogan says. All that Marie Antoinette fashion is back of course, as are her vices – gambling, superficiality, avarice.

Here girls and women will be gambling with their lives, falling for a cynical use of design and marketing techniques, and feeding the greed of merchants of death. Apparently, more women today die of lung cancer than breast cancer, “by a wide margin” as told to the New York Times by the American Legacy Foundation.

Thanks, R.J. Reynolds, for the Valentine’s Day thoughts. Wishing you the same.

[Photo: Tony Cenicola, New York Times.]


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