This week on Radio Round-Up, we tune-in to some references to advertising radio slogans! Many slogans were used in cartoons, often as signage (“Is this trip really necessary?” or “Does your tobacco taste different lately?”), but these particular catch lines were used in multiple films.The tobacco industry was a major sponsor of programs during the Golden Age of radio, before Congress prohibited the advertising of their products on television and radio in the early 1970s in response to health concerns over the effects of nicotine to the human body. Many radio broadcasts, particularly comedy shows, promoted various tobacco companies and brands, with Lucky Strike as the most prominent. This also included Camel, Chesterfields, Phillip Morris, Raleigh Cigarettes and Old Gold, to name a few.
In late 1937, Your Lucky Strike Hit Parade introduced a jingle promoting their brand, manufactured by the American Tobacco Company. North Carolina auctioneer Lee Aubrey “Speed” Riggs delivered a rapid spiel, concluding with “Sold American!” This campaign helped boost sales of Lucky Strike ahead of all other brands, and led to the song “Sold American” performed and co-written by popular bandleader Glenn Miller. In some cases, F.E. Boone, another pitchman from Lexington, Kentucky, would launch into the auctioneer patter.
In the fall of 1944, Lucky Strike became a sponsor to one of the highest-rated radio comedies, vua the program’s new identity as The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny. In addition to “Speed” Riggs’ rapid sales pitch, the American Tobacco Company’s tagline—also heard on Your Hit Parade—proclaimed these cigarettes were “so round, so firm, so fully packed, so free and easy on the draw” announced at the show’s start. Often on the program, cast members of the Benny show spoofed Lucky Strike’s slogan; in a 1955 broadcast, Don Wilson orders a hamburger “round and firm and fully packed…free and easy on the ketchup.” Like the previous Lucky Strike slogan, this particular line warranted a song entitled, “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed”, a country tune sung by Merle Travis in 1947.)
Off the subject of tobacco products, during World War II, commercials advertising Lifebuoy soap utilized a foghorn sound effect to indicate “B.O.” (body odor). The sound was meant to emphasize its affliction on people yearning for success or romance, instead of a blatant warning or mention of their smell. The advent of the “Sonovox” machine—demonstrated in You’ll Find Out (1940) with Kay Kyser and Disney’s The Reluctant Dragon (1941)—delivered the message effectively to radio listeners to use Lifebuoy in their bath or shower. Small speakers were placed around the announcer’s throat, and the words were mouthed, as using a recording of an instrument or sound effect would play, eliciting a unique vocal effect. In the case of Lifebuoy’s commercials, the two letters would be rendered in a long, drawn-out “beeeeeee-ooooooohhh…”
Here’s a video compilation of these three radio slogans. Enjoy!
Speed Riggs auctioneer spiel/ “Sold American!”—Porky and Daffy (WB/1938), Chicken Jitters (WB/1939), The Wise Quacking Duck (WB/1943), Porky Pig’s Feat (WB/1943), Confederate Honey (WB/1940), Lights Fantastic (WB/1942), The Infantry Blues (WB/Snafu, 1943), Racketeer Rabbit (WB/1946), Mother Goose on the Loose (Lantz/1942), Crazy Cruise (WB/1942)
“So round, so firm, so fully packed…”—Book Revue (WB/1946), Walky Talky Hawky (WB/1946), Teacher’s Pest (Famous/1950), Hare We Go (WB/1951)
“Beeee-oooooohhh…”—Wackiki Wabbit (WB/1943), Hare Ribbin’ (WB/1944), Seein’ Red, White n’ Blue (Famous/1943), The Greatest Man in Siam (Lantz/1944), The Daffy Duckaroo (WB/1942)
(Thanks to Eric Costello for their help.)