Why did Camel cigarettes invent this fun-loving iconic character in 1988? When 90% of smokers take up the habit in adolescence the answer seems almost intuitive. This youthful campaign proved to be incredibly successful. When Joe Camel was  adopted, the company’s share of the illegal youth population  increased from 0.5% to 32.8%. He was appealing to children because he was always doing cool hip things, never without a Camel cigarette dangling from his mouth. Merchandise was a key concept in the marketing strategy, offering t-shirts small enough to fit babies. Clearly they were advertising to children…but was there an impact?

Yes! In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 1/3 of three-year-olds were able to correctly match Joe Camel with cigarettes. In that same study, more children ages 5- 6 recognized Joe Camel than Mickey Mouse or Fred Flinstone. In another study, 94% of high school students recognized the Joe Camel cartoon, while only 58% knew what it actually represented.