“Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!” is the enduring slogan that appeared in magazine, newspaper, and television advertisements for Tareyton cigarettes from 1963 until 1981. It was the American Tobacco Company’s most visible advertising campaign in the 1960s and 1970s.
The slogan was created by James Jordan of the BBDO advertising agency. The first print advertisement appeared in Life magazine on October 11, 1963. The advertisements would appear solely in print between 1963 and 1966. In 1966, the first television advertisements with the slogan aired.
The target of the campaign was to create a sense of loyalty amongst Tareyton smokers. That led to the “rather fight than switch” campaign, in which the makeup the models wore made it seem as if they were sporting black eyes, presumably earned in battles with smokers of other cigarettes. The slogan received grammar criticism from some quarters, which claimed correct usage should be “we” as the subject pronoun rather than “us”, normally an object pronoun.
Each commercial would begin in a predictable manner; the protagonist would do something that would be considered defiant. In each commercial, the protagonist would say “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!”, usually only showing their side profile to the camera. After uttering the slogan, viewers would see the smoker’s face, which had a noticeable “black eye” (in reality makeup), proving their willingness to fight for what they believed in, whether it be their tough decision of the day, or their choice to smoke Tareyton cigarettes.
In 1971, radio and television advertisements for tobacco products were banned from American broadcasting stations, and Tareyton’s television jingles ended. However, after the ban, the slogan continued to be used in magazines and newspapers, due to the slogan and the name recognition the brand received. In 1975, the slogan was used to advertise for the Tareyton “100”.
In 1976, the American Tobacco Company, which made Tareyton cigarettes, introduced Tareyton Light cigarettes. In the new advertisements, men and women sported “white eyes,” with an updated slogan: “Us Tareyton smokers would rather light than fight!” The two slogans would be used to sell the two separate variations until 1981, when market value declined.
This slogan was notable in that it was the final slogan used for the Tareyton brand. Declining sales led to an end of advertising the brand.