George Washington Hill, marketing mastermind

“The Lucky Strike Orchestra was the brainchild of George Washington Hill, the legendary president of the American Tobacco Company, and a seminal figure in the history of commer­cial broadcasting. The flamboyant Hill drove a Cadillac festooned with enlargements of the Lucky Strike package, chain-smoked Luckies despite a wracking cough, and insisted that all his employees smoke them, too.

“Hill, along with Procter & Gamble, was one of the first big-time advertisers to use radio.

“He knew instinctively how to program for a mass market. He believed the upbeat music played by the Lucky Strike Orchestra could help America dance its way out of the Depres­sion.

“Hill also broke through the early restrictions on low-class advertising with his classic line for Cremo cigars, ‘There’s no spit in Cremo!’ on the CBS network. Hill was a proponent of loud, obnoxious, repetitive advertising. His ‘Lucky Strike has gone to war!’ ads, aired during the early stages of World War II, were one of the great success stories in advertising history.”

— From “The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1920-1961” by Jeff Kisseloff (1995)



George Washington Hill, a man with a brand

“If [George Washington Hill, president of American Tobacco, 1925-1946]  did not invent the hard sell, he nonetheless drove it to new heights. Selling Lucky Strikes became his obsession. Packages dangled on strings in the windows of his Rolls Royce, which had the Lucky Strike logo emblazoned on its taillights. Hill named his pet dachshunds Lucky and Strike and grew tobacco in the garden of his Hudson River estate.

“Even Albert Lasker, his adman, found Hill’s excesses notable: ‘The only purpose in life to him was to wake up, to eat and to sleep so  that he’d have the strength to sell more Lucky Strikes.’ ”

— From “The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America” (2007) by Allan M. Brandt