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Ads, Like Diamonds, Are Forever

According to the book, The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived, the most influential fictional icon isn’t a comic book hero, an imaginary cultural symbol, or a childhood toy—although Batman, Barbie, and Santa Claus appear elsewhere on the list. Instead, the Marlboro Man comes in at Number One. According to the book’s authors, the iconic commercial cowboy earned his place by inducing millions of people to start smoking and contributing to the spread of smoking-related illnesses, such as heart disease and lung cancer. The rest of the book’s top 10 are available here.

The Marlboro Man also comes in at Number One on Advertising Age’s list of the Top 10 Twentieth Century Ad Icons. According to the AdAge profile, the Marlboro Man ad campaign went national in 1955 and sales on the former ‘ladies cigarette’ went up a whopping 3,214%. Other top ad icons include Ronald McDonald (whose face is recognizable to 96% of American children), Betty Crocker, and the Energizer Bunny.

–Sarah Janssen


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 1, 2006 10:30 AM.

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