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A 1915 Camels ad from The New York Times, offering a money-back guarantee with the injunction, "Premiums or coupons don't go with Camels, because the cost of the choice quality tobaccos makes it impossible for us to give them"
Camel cigarettes were originally blended to have a milder taste than established brands. They were advance-promoted by a careful advertising campaign that included "teasers" simply stating "the Camels are coming", a play on the old Scottish folk song "The Campbells Are Coming". This marketing style was a prototype for subsequent attempts to sway public opinion into backing the United States's entry into World War I, and later World War II. Another promotion was "Old Joe", a circus camel driven through towns used to attract attention and distribute free cigarettes. The brand's slogan, used for decades, was "I'd walk a mile for a Camel!"
The iconic style of Camel is the original unfiltered cigarette sold in a soft pack, known as Camel Straights or Regulars. Its popularity peaked through the brand's use by famous personalities such as news broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, whose usage of them was so heavy and so public that the smoking of a Camel no-filter became his trademark.
In Europe, Camel is also a brand of cigarette rolling papers and loose cigarette tobacco, maintaining a top 20 roll-your-own rank in Northern Europe with yearly expansion into Southern and Eastern Europe according to the European Subsidiary's annual report.
In 1999, Japan Tobacco International gained ownership of the rights to sell Camel outside the United States. The tobacco blend of the non-American Camel contains less Oriental tobacco and a higher proportion of Burley.
On July 1, 2000, an "Oriental" variety of Camel was introduced, followed by Turkish Gold, a regular cigarette, in 2000, and Turkish Jade, a menthol, in 2001. In 2005 Camel added its name on the cigarette paper and changed the filter color and design on its Oriental version, which was subsequently discontinued, but then reinstated. Also in 2005, Turkish Silvers were introduced, an ultralight version positioned in strength below Turkish Gold "lights" and "full flavor" Turkish Royal. Various Camel Crush and Camel Click cigarettes have also been created and are some of the most popular Camel variants being sold.
In 2012 Camel was surpassed by Pall Mall as R.J. Reynolds's most popular brand.
As of June 2012, Camel filters were discontinued in the United Kingdom. Camel Blue, the light version, is available from Tesco.
In 2013, Camel celebrated its 100th anniversary. Professor Robert N. Proctor of Stanford University commented on the occasion with an editorial in the LA Times, noting that over the last century Camel sold over 4 trillion cigarettes and "have probably caused about 4 million deaths."
Camel Collector's Pack of 1918
The Reynolds company commissioned Fred Otto Kleesattel in 1913 to draw the original artwork. The signature scene on most Camel cigarette packs shows a single dromedary, the smallest of the three species of camel, standing on desert sand, with pyramids and palm trees in the background. The back features bazaars and mosques. On European and some other non-U.S. versions, the desert motifs have been replaced by health warnings. On others, Kleesattel included "Manneken Pis", a historical figure of Brussels.
Known as "Fritz", Kleesattel was a highly sought after graphic designer living in Louisville, Kentucky. He was hired through his company, Klee Ad Art, to design the packaging for the new Camel cigarettes' line. Klee Ad Art was also integral in devising designs for Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Distilleries, and many other now immediately recognizable U.S. brands. While serving in the U.S. Army during World War I, Kleesattel worked as a camouflage artist, disguising buildings, vehicles and other potential targets by making them blend with their surroundings.
The reverse sides of many packs or boxes of Camel cigarettes display variations of the following text:
Turkish tobacco is the world's smoothest, most aromatic leaf. Blending it with more robust domestic tobaccos is the secret to Camel's distinctive flavor and world-class smoothness.
In 2008, this was changed to:
A master-crafted blend of only the finest hand-picked Samsun & Izmir Turkish tobaccos with a robust domestic tobacco blend creates Camel's distinctive flavor and world-class smoothness.
The reverse side of the five "Turkish Blend" cigarettes display this message along with a description that differs depending on the blend:
Turkish tobacco is the world's smoothest, most aromatic leaf.
The reverse side of unfiltered "soft pack" Camel cigarettes has displayed this text for many years, a theme also used by R. J. Reynolds in its advertising as early as 1915:
Don't look for premiums or coupons, as the cost of the tobaccos blended in Camel Cigarettes prohibits the use of them.
Or alternatively can be seen displaying the text (later removed from some packets with the introduction of health warning messages):
Camel, a premium blend of the finest quality tobaccos, provides genuine smoking pleasure.
The reverse side of unfiltered "soft pack" Camel cigarettes, produced by JT International reads:
CAMEL cigarettes contain a blend of choice Turkish and American tobaccos to bring you full smoking satisfaction with CAMEL quality.
Camel Wides, starting in 2008, began displaying this on the reverse side of the pack:
The larger gauge of a Camel Wides cigarette makes for the smoothest, flavorful way to enjoy Camel's distinctive blend of the finest Turkish and Domestic tobaccos.
In 1936, Camel used the slogan "For digestion's sake - smoke Camels." The ads ran from 1936 to 1939. In 1951, over a decade after the ad campaign ended, the FTC issued a cease-and-desist order prohibiting R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) from claiming that Camels aided digestion in any respect.
In 1946, Camel advertised their cigarettes as being the favorite choice among doctors "from every branch of medicine", making smokers believe it was safe to smoke them. The slogan used was "More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette", which became the mainstay of Camel advertising until 1952. This was based on a survey touted as coming from "three leading independent research organizations"; however, these surveys were conducted on behalf of RJR, who provided a complimentary carton of Camels before interviewing doctors' smoking habits.
In late 1987, RJR created "Joe Camel" as a brand mascot. In 1991, the American Medical Association published a report stating that 5- and 6-year olds could more easily recognize Joe Camel than Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny or even Barbie. This led the association to ask RJR to terminate the Joe Camel campaign. RJR declined, but further appeals followed in 1993 and 1994. On July 10, 1997, the Joe Camel campaign was retired and replaced with a more adult campaign which appealed to the desires of its mid twenties target market. Camel paid millions of dollars to settle lawsuits accusing them of using Joe Camel to market smoking to children.
"Camel Cash", or "C-Note", was a promotional ticket stuck to the back of filtered varieties of Camel cigarettes. It was made to vaguely resemble currency and could be exchanged for items from the Camel Cash catalog. It could not be used, however, to purchase Camel tobacco products.
The artwork changed many times over the years, and in the past included the face of Joe Camel, much in the same way as presidents are featured on American currency; later designs just used a Camel silhouette like the one on the Camel logo, after Joe Camel was discontinued. Camel Cash redemption expired on March 31, 2007, angering some smokers who had been saving up the cash for a long period of time only to find it worthless suddenly.
New York City health commissioner Thomas Farley and the National Association of Attorneys General both sent Reynolds letters asking that the campaign be stopped. The organization said that it violated the 1998 tobacco settlement. Reynolds denied that children were being targeted and said the campaign did not go against the settlement. Other cities and states also stated their objections including San Francisco and Seattle.
The image of the dromedary on the pack has been the object of controversy. According to a legend, the artist who drew the image of the dromedary was Belgian and did not like the marketing manager of Camel so he introduced a design of Manneken Pis (a bronze statue of a very typical urinating child from Belgium). When examined closely, the shadows on the upper part of the left leg define the image of this statue. They also claim that you can see the image of a baboon or another type of monkey on the back of the dromedary, some even say that you can see eagles near the head and a fish in the central area. It is considered unlikely that these images were drawn on purpose, rather they are the product of the shading of the drawing.
Camel was a sponsor of various Formula 1 teams over the years, either appearing as a major or a minor sponsor.
Camel sponsored the AGS team in 1989. The logos were placed on the side of the cars, and on the drivers' helmets. In races where tobacco sponsorship was forbidden, the Camel name was replaced with the Camel logo instead.
Camel was a sponsor of the Larrousse F1 team in the 1988 and 1989 seasons. The logos were displayed on the top of the nose section, right in the front of the driver, on the side of the car and on the drivers helmets.
Camel sponsored the Tyrrell Racing team in the 1988 and 1989 seasons. In 1988, the logos were displayed on the top of the car, on the front of the nose, on the top side of the rear wing and on the driver's helmets because it was a minor sponsor, but in 1989 Camel was the main sponsor and the logos were more prominently shown. In races where tobacco sponsorship was forbidden, the Camel name was replaced with the Camel logo instead.
In races where tobacco sponsorship was forbidden, the Camel name was replaced with "Biaggi", "Ukawa", "Tamada", "Barros", "Bayliss" and "Team" and the Camel logo was replaced with a racing bike.
The Camel pack is featured prominently in Tom Robbins's 1980 novel Still Life with Woodpecker, billed as "a love story that happens inside a pack of cigarettes". The book's artwork is modeled after a pack of Camels, and the package artwork and history are discussed extensively in the book. It is also mentioned that a pack of Camels is the best friend you have in prison.
The cover of the album Mirage by the band Camel resembles the cigarette packaging.
A pack of Camel Filters appears amongst other paraphernalia on the cover of Brian Eno's first solo album Here Come the Warm Jets.
A stylized drawing of the Camel cigarette pack is used as the front cover of the 1971 album Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime by the San Francisco psychedelic band It's a Beautiful Day.