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Indian Cigarette Vintage Ads

He put a cigarette in his mouth and, as a matter of silent routine, offered one to Gwyn, who said ‘No thanks.”Richard looked at him.”I packed it in.”"You what?”"I stopped. Three days ago. Cold. That’s it. You just make the life choice.”

Richard looked up and inhaled needfully. He gazed at his cigarette. He didn’t really want to smoke it. He wanted to eat it. Almost the only thing that he still liked about Gwyn was that he still smoked…Paradoxically, he no longer wanted to give up smoking: what he wanted to do was take up smoking. Not so much to fill the little gaps between cigarettes with cigarettes (there wouldn’t be time, anyway) or to smoke two cigarettes at once. It was more that he felt the desire to smoke a cigarette even when he was smoking a cigarette. The need was and wasn’t being met…

While it would always be true and fair to say that Richard felt like a cigarette, it would now be doubly true and fair to say it. He felt like a cigarette. And he felt like a cigarette. His mouth was plugged with a gum called Nicoteen. And he wore circular nicotine patches, from the same product stable, on his left forearm and right bicep. Richard’s blood brownly brewed, like something left overnight in the teapot. He was a cigarette; and he felt like one. And he still felt like a cigarette . . . What he was doing was practicing non-smoking. He knew how Americans treated smokers, people of smoke, people of fire and ash, with their handfuls of dust. He would be asked to do an awful lot of it: non-smoking.
 -The Information by Martin Amis

Curious about the Sound: Checkout this post about Hindi Songs and Cigarettes

The following ads are from Advertising Management: Concepts and Cases by Manendra Mohan
(Tata McGraw-Hill, 1989)
Four Square Kings
Live Life Kingsize

All the taste.all the way

Four Square Cigarette ad featuring Suresh Oberoi from 1970s. I think the woman in the background is Supriya Pathak.Check comments.

All this talk about Kings sounds funny because cigarettes have more to do with beggars in 18th century Europe. It all began when beggars in Spanish town of  Seville began to pick burnt cigar ends, left by rich young men, from the ground and rolled up the tobacco remains in a paper and smoked up.

Next one.
Give a man a pipe he can smoke .

Give me a bike
Give me a highway
Give me my Girl
And give me the taste of toasted tobacco

Charminar Filter cigarette Ad from 1970s.
An Executive Affiar
Regent Cigarette ad from late 70s and early 80s. Regent Filter Tipped was launched in 1958-59, it was one of the first filtered  cigarettes in the market.

Visa Cigarette
from the house of Philip Morris (now part of Altria Group)

Big Update: The following Ads are from the book Brand Positioning: Strategies for competitive Advantage by Subroto Sengupta (Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1994)

New from Philip Morris
Marlboro Filter Cigarette
The new easy-drawing filter cigarette that delivers the goods on flavor. Long size. Popular filter price. Light up a Marlboro and be glad you've changed to a filter.
- famous 'Marlboro cowboy Ad' created in 1955 by Leo Burnett Agency that transformed Marlboro for women (earlier it used to have a red tip to mark lipstick smears and that pack almost had a pink color ) to Marlboro for real men - and a real man couldn't get better than a cowboy.  In this ad the emphasis is also on word 'filter' as during that time filters were regarded as 'sissy'. The book reproduced it from The New Advertising by Robert Glatzer(Citadel Press)

Marlboro bidis!

A hoarding for 'Governer Bidis' seen at Madras airport (photo by  Mrs. Mala Mukherjee)

It's the 'made for each other' blend that set the filter trend!

What makes Wills Filter the largest-selling filter in all South Asia?
Unquestioned smoking satisfaction results only when hand picked Virginia tobaccos are perfectly matched with an up-to-date filter...truly made for each other. As in Wills Filter.
 [Rs. 1.80 for 20, 90p for 10]
- (Agency: HTA) Wills Filter was launched in 1963 and this is one of the earliest and historic ad of Wills Filter 'made for each other.
The strategy was to make non-filter smokers  shift to filtered sticks smoothly. 'Made for each other' did and did not stand for man and woman. It's a visual that stayed in all their future ads. I think the man here is actor Raj Kumar. This was a time when half a pack actually came at half a cost. And the filter pack was cheaper than an pack of non-filtered Cigarettes.

Things To be Proud of 

wherever you go they're good.
 - an old ad of Gold Flake plain from 1960

 Gold Flake was launched in India by ITC (then Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd) in 1912.

Quality that has stood the test of time
Wills Gold Flake 
the best plain cigarette you can buy

- an ad for Wills Gold Flake plain from1970

Gold Flake Filter Kings
Worth its length in gold
Gold Flake Filter Kings comes king size length for
a really luxurious smoke. More Virginia tobacco for
more satisfaction. and smoother too. Worth its
length in gold - that's Gold Flake Filter Kings

Wherever you go they're good
[Rs.3.20 for 20. Rs 1.60 for 10]
-  Gold Flake Filter Kings ad from August 1970

The tinkle of crystal,
the sparkle of talk and laughter...
and Gold Flake.
Great quality...
For the gracious people

Gold Flake Filter
Quality that's forever

 - Gold Flake Filter Kings ad from 1984.
(Agency: Clarion)

For gracious people

 - Gold Flake Filter Kings ad, September 1987
 man on the left is actor Vijayendra Ghatge
(Agency: Clarion)

Celebrate the arrival of a great cigarette
Gold Flake Filter

 - ad for Gold Flake Filter, late 1980s
(Agency: Clarion)

Live Life King Size

Four Square Kings
All the taste all the way
 - Ad for Four Square Kings from 1970s.(Agency: O&M) It was the first one to use western imagery of high flying life  filled with sailing, riding and high adventure. Right until 1988, Four Square Kings was the largest selling king-size filter cigarette in India. Then Gold Flake Filter Kings overtook it.

Charminar -dark, strong tobacco in a plain (non-filter) cigarette- was once the largest selling cigarette brand in India.

Manufacture by Vazir Sultan Company (VST Industries Limited, Azamabad Hyderabad)
Right: Range of cigarettes manufactured by VST Industries (Charminar Company). These included: Charminar Special Mild Virginia, Charms Mini King, Charminar (actual non-filtered), Charms Virginia Kings, Charminar Gold Filter, Vijay, Silver Kings, Charminar Filter, Vijay Gold Flake, Charms Virginia Filter, Gold Fine Cut. 

Smoothness has never been so satisfying
Charminar Gold Filter
Such a rare combination: 
smoothness, but with
all the taste, all the satisfaction
Just what you always wanted:
Charminar Gold
[Rs. 1/95 for 20]
-  An old ad of Charminar Gold (Agency: Clarion)

This is the spirit of freedom
This is the age of Charms
The unmistakable taste of fine Virginia tobaccos
And the unmistakable denim pack in a regular size
"It tastes so good"

 (Agency: Enterprise)
-  Charms Virginia filter cigarette ad from late 1980s featuring male model Marc Robinson.
King sized Virginia filter cigarette with the brand name 'Charms' was launched in 1981.
Update: Female model should be Shyamoli Varma. And ad should be from around 1983.


- Vintage ad of Panama non filtered Cigarette, year 1972

Found the following ad on the cover of a local telephone directory of year 1996-97

We Red &White
Smokers are
One of a Kind


- Ad of Red&White cigarette from year 1996 featuring actor Akshay Kumar

 Following ads are from some old issues of Gentleman Magazine

Discover a passion
-  Wills Classic ad from July 1999

Gold Flake 
Honey Dew

It's Honeydew Smooth

 -  Gold Flake ad October 1999. That particular year they concentrated on Dew.

 Body &Soul
Be Gold
Benson &Hedge
Benson &  Hedges Special Filter Cigarette ad, January 1999. They had launched new packet design.

Cool &Calm
Be Gold
Benson &Hedges
Benson & Hedges Lights (BHL) Cigarette ad, July 1999

And then came year 2000 and we only got to see surrogate cigarette ads. And soon even that was put to an end and finally a movement to ban smoking in public took off.

 Seven World Cups. One Winner
Wills Sports Cricket Book

 - January 1999

Wills Indian Open 

Catch Golf in New Light
Brought to you by Wills Sport
- from India Today, March 2000
 Later cigarette companies are stopped from sponsoring sports events.

The Charms Companion

 Sets you free

 - probably advertising a music album. August 2000


Cigarette Smoking Is Injurious To Health!


Rest of the ads in this series here


Check out a great collection of  vintage cigarette ads at Cutting The Chai by Soumyadip


Update: Cavanders ads generously shared by reader Kabir Basu Roy.

Cavanders ad from early 90s

Cavanders ad from late 90s

Arjun Rampal in Cavaders ad



  1. I'm going to borrow them for the Indian Cigarette Ads from 1800s to 2000s post. Great find.

  2. Thanks Soumyadip! Do use them for your fine post and I could certainly use a link back to my series here as I will be posting some more ads from the 70s, 80s :)

  3. Thanks. And would definitely link back. As this is the best way to say thank you on the web.

  4. good read. You could also look at Talat Mehmood for 555. First indian to endorse a foreign brand

  5. sridhar, thanks for the comment!
    I did come across that trivia while working on his piece but then couldn't find any more info. on it.

  6. you missed out on cavenders.. I never knew foursquare was such an old band.. never saw any foursquare packs during my childhood days

  7. I couldn't find an old Cavender Ad. Panama and Cavenders are the first two names of cigarette that I ever heard.

    I remember in the 90s the television ad for Cavenders used to be themed on adventure sport.

  8. The first ad of FSK ( sky sailing ) features Amar Bedi ( a photograper himself) and the second one has Late dilip dhawan.They were created by OBM ( Presently Ogilvy).

  9. Very impressive collection Vinayak.
    I also have some good vintage ads that i could share with you, In case they are of any help to you. Perhaps you could add those to your article/archive.

  10. Kabir,
    Post updated with Cavanders. Thanks!

  11. Vinayak, was wonderful visiting the blog and this has, in fact, inspired me to do a story for Deccan Herald, the newspaper I work with. I will be using some of the pics on your blog for a newspaper article. With due credit.

    Chethan, the Deccan Herald

  12. Hello,

    I came across your blog while looking for cigarette advertisements for Pakistan. Do you mind if I use some of the images for an essay I am writing? Will reference your blog, of course.


  13. The man model Gurinder Singh for Cavanders cigarettes was quite hot like the cigarette he smoked then....Does any one have clue of that handsome hunk now.

    1. Gurinder Singh Reyar passed away in 1991. He was a very close friend.

  14. Good Collection. The Girl in Four Square ad is Anna Bredmeyer - a famous model of her times - Pls dbl Chk!

  15. Hi vinayak.... Its a wonderful but would b glad if u could help out a bit.. m looking for a 1989 Panama cigarette poster

  16. Anyone got a snap of Regent cigarettes ads from the late 70's?


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