Caporal Cigarettes “Ask Dad – He Knows”
In October, a man chained himself to the Greek Cafe in protest to its destruction. Some would say, “Only in Butte.” But this man’s action was more of a testament to the spirit and pride Butte natives have to their town, regardless of how economically challenged they have been for the last 70 years.
Amazingly, as the cafe came down a wall of faded ads emerged. The photo I have posted here is an advertisement for Caporal Cigarettes who, in the early 1900′s, had an advertising campaign for “Ask Dad – He Knows.” The ad revealed on this wall states: “Who smoked “Sweet Caps” on his high wheeled bicycle? Smoke Sweet Caps – Ask Dad – He Knows.” If you look really hard you can see the big wheel of the bicycle. I found reference to 14 documented “Ask Dad” slogans including one that said “Whose doctor said Good Tobacco Won’t Hurt You? Smoke Sweet Caps. Ask Dad – He Knows.”
The “Ask Dad” campaigns piqued my curiosity about early marketing of cigarettes; specifically to young children. Have you seen Jolly Old Saint Nicholas with his “droll little mouth drawn up like a bow” smoking a cigarette? Check it out. How about a preschooler smoking a pipe? What about capitalizing on the emulation most young boys experience to be like their dads?
Most common was the practice of placing cigarette ads on the back of collectible baseball cards. In 1909, the baseball great, Honus Wagner, asked that his picture be removed from a card promoting Sweet Caporal cigarettes. Controversy exists about the reason for this decision. One is that he was against tobacco and the influence it had on young people; another was that he was not being compensated. Regardless, he determined he would not be promoted through this cigarette advertisement. The card was taken off the market and its scarcity led it to be the most valued card in baseball’s history at over $2,000,000.00.
Who smokes Sweet Caporal Cigarettes? No one any more, but the sign we now see in Butte reminds us of a time where displaying advertising on brick buildings influenced upcoming generations.
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: "Caporal Cigarettes" "Caporal Tobacco" "American Tobacco Company", brick wall ads, butte, butte faded ads, cigarette fading ads, Ghost Signs, Ghost Signs Montana, Jeanne Elliott