Lucky Strike

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Lucky Strike
Luckystrike logo13 red.png
Lucky Strike logo launched in 2013.
Product typeCigarette
Produced byBritish American Tobacco
Japan Tobacco
R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (in the U.S.)
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For other uses, see Lucky Strike (disambiguation).
Lucky Strike
Luckystrike logo13 red.png
Lucky Strike logo launched in 2013.
Product typeCigarette
Produced byBritish American Tobacco
Japan Tobacco
R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (in the U.S.)

Lucky Strike is an American brand of cigarette owned by the British American Tobacco groups. Often referred to as "Luckies", Lucky Strike was the top selling cigarette in the United States during the 1930s.[1]


Advertising photo for Lucky Strike by Nickolas Muray, 1936.

The brand was first introduced by R.A. Patterson of Richmond, Virginia, in 1871 as cut-plug chewing tobacco and later a cigarette. In 1905, the company was acquired by the American Tobacco Company (ATC).

The "It's Toasted" ad as explained, from 1917.

In 1917, the brand started using the slogan, "It's Toasted", to inform consumers about the manufacturing method in which the tobacco is toasted rather than sun-dried, a process touted as making the cigarettes taste delicious.

In the late 1920s, the brand was sold as a route to thinness for women. One typical ad said, "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet." Sales of Lucky Strikes increased by more than 300% during the first year of the advertising campaign. Sales went from 14 billion cigarettes in 1925 to 40 billion sold in 1930, making Lucky Strike the leading brand nationwide.[2]

Lucky Strike' association with radio music programs began during the 1920s on NBC. By 1928, the bandleader and vaudeville producer B. A. Rolfe was performing on radio and recording as "B.A. Rolfe and his Lucky Strike Orchestra" for Edison Records. In 1935, ATC began to sponsor Your Hit Parade, featuring North Carolina tobacco auctioneer Lee Aubrey "Speed" Riggs (later, another tobacco auctioneer from Lexington, Kentucky, F.E. Boone, was added). The weekly radio show's countdown catapulted the brand's success, remaining popular for 25 years. The shows capitalized on the tobacco auction theme and each ended with the signature phrase "Sold, American."[3]

The company's advertizing campaigns generally featured a theme that stressed the quality of the tobacco purchased at auction for use in making Lucky Strike cigarettes and claimed that the higher quality tobacco resulted in a cigarette with better flavor. American engaged in a series of advertisements using Hollywood actors as endorsers of Lucky Strike, including testimonials from Douglas Fairbanks, concerning the cigarette's flavor.[3]

Lucky Strike was also a sponsor of comedian Jack Benny's radio and TV show, The Jack Benny Program, which was also introduced as The Lucky Strike Program.

Lucky Strike factories in Durham, NC

The brand's signature dark green pack was changed to white in 1942. In a famous advertizing campaign that used the slogan "Lucky Strike Green has gone to war", the company claimed the change was made because the copper used in the green color was needed for World War II.[4] American Tobacco actually used chromium to produce the green ink, and copper to produce the gold-colored trim. A limited supply of each was available, and substitute materials made the package look drab.[5][not in citation given]

The truth of the matter was that the white package was introduced to modernize the label and to increase the appeal of the package among female smokers; market studies showed that the green package was not found attractive to women, who had become important consumers of tobacco products. The war effort became a convenient way to make the product more marketable while appearing patriotic at the same time.[5]

Famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy was challenged by company president George Washington Hill to improve the existing green and red package, with a $50,000 bet at stake. Loewy changed the background from green to white, making it more attractive to women as well as cutting printing costs by eliminating the need for green dye. He also placed the Lucky Strike target logo on both sides of the package, a move that increased both visibility and sales. Hill paid off the bet.[6]

British Lucky Strike pack with cigarette alongside and government health warning.

The message "L.S.M.F.T." ("Lucky Strike means fine tobacco") was introduced on the package in 1945.

Post World War II[edit]

Jenson Button driving for BAR at Indianapolis in the 2005 US Grand Prix donning a Lucky Strike livery

As a result of British American Tobacco plc's buying out American Tobacco Company in 1976, Lucky Strike came under control of BAT. The company acquired Formula 1s Tyrrell Racing team in 1997 and rebranded it as British American Racing the following year, sponsoring the team with its Lucky Strike and stablemate 555 brands. The team was bought outright by partners Honda by 2006, though Lucky Strike continued to sponsor the team until the end of that year.

In 1978 and 1994, export rights and U.S. rights were purchased by Brown & Williamson. In the 1960s, filtered styles were launched in addition to a mentholated version called "Lucky Strike Green". This time "Green" was referring to menthol and not to the overall package color. In late 2006, both the Full Flavored and Light filtered varieties of Lucky Strike cigarettes were discontinued in North America. However, Lucky Strike continued to have marketing and distribution support in territories controlled by British American Tobacco as a global drive brand. In addition, R. J. Reynolds continues to market the original, non-filter Lucky Strikes in the United States. Lucky Strikes currently have a small base of smokers.[7][8]

In 2007, a new packaging of Lucky Strikes was released, with a two-way opening which split seven cigarettes from the rest. In the same year, the company used the world's smallest man, He Pingping, in their ad campaigns.

In 2009, Lucky Strike Silver (the brand marketed as lighter) changed their UK packs from the quintessential red design to blue, albeit with a red teaser outer covering the packet.

Cultural references[edit]

A Lucky Strike package appears in the opening credits of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.

The cigarette brand is referenced in many modern forms of media.

In art[edit]

In music[edit]

In television[edit]

In film[edit]

In other uses[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product That Defined America. Allan M. Brandt. Basic Books, 2009
  2. ^ Women Under the Influence. Columbia University. National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. JHU Press, 2006. p. 21
  3. ^ a b K L Lum, J R Polansky, R K Jackler and S A Glantz: "Signed, sealed and delivered: 'big tobacco' in Hollywood, 192–1951" doi:10.1136/tc.2008.025445 (September 25, 2008)
  4. ^ Robert Heide and John Gilman, Home Front America: Popular Culture of the World War II Era p 128-9 ISBN 0-8118-0927-7 OCLC 31207708
  5. ^ a b "Bull's Eye Logo" by Barbara Mikelson at (February 7, 2007)
  6. ^ "About:Biography [Raymond Loewy]". Raymond Loewy: The Father of Industrial Design. Estate of Raymond Loewy. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ R.J. Reynolds Brand Portfolio via the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Our international brands, British American Tobacco
  9. ^ Lyrics to Keeping the Faith
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  18. ^ Pow, Helen (September 23, 2013). "Mad Men sparks cigarette sales boom for Lucky Strike with 10 BILLION more packs sold last year compared to when series first aired". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  19. ^ Troxler, Howard. Jesse Helms' legacy is today's politicking. St. Petersburg Times. August 23, 2001.

External links[edit]