When Ad Goes Wrong: Black & Mild’s Case


Advertisements are made to promote a product and increase sales. Therefore, it is important for an ad to be compelling, and it should deliver a clear message that the product being advertised is beneficial to buy. This paper will discuss an ad poster of Black & Mild’s filter tip cigars. The ad was produced in 2020, as seen in the copyright statement, and it promotes a filter tip variety of Black & Mild’s cigars. The company sells machine-made pipe cigars, which are considered to be an alternative to regular cigarettes. The intended audience is adults that can legally buy and consume tobacco products. Despite a catchy slogan and text elements that attempt to showcase the strengths of the product, the ad is ineffective in terms of capturing the audience because of the inadequate combination of visual elements and color.

Ad Description


The ad occupies a full page of a magazine and employs one image and several text elements. There is an individual smoking a cigar, and the person’s body takes the majority of available space. The sun shines from the right side of the captured shot, which makes rays light up the left cheek of the individual, while the right part of the face and torso is covered in shadows. Overall, colors are dim and lack saturation, while high contrast makes some portions of the image impossible to see. There is a pack of cigars with a Black & Mild label in the person’s chest pocket. The background is part of the image and contains a finished skyscraper on the right and a building under construction on the left. There is apparently a blue sky, but because of faint color levels, it looks dim.

Text and Other Elements

There are three text elements that are part of the advertisement and one text element that delivers a warning message to tobacco consumers. The ad uses a Rockwell style bold font and yellow color for all parts except for the text that indicates the variety of the cigar. The main slogan reads “Shift your enjoyment,” “Black & Mild Filter Tips” gives information about the product name, and “Available in Sweets & Original” speaks of two options a customer can choose from. The slogan is placed right above the person’s head, while the product name is on the left part of the image. The text with options is placed next to the chest pocket of the individual. There is no consistent alignment of text elements – the product name is centered, while the other two employ non-uniform alignment. White space was not used effectively – there is no hierarchy, and elements look as if they were placed without any systemic approach. White space is often employed to separate different visual aspects between each other (Sharma and Monahan 978). However, in this case, the text is set in a chaotic manner.


Rational Appeal

The primary element that comprises the rational appeal of the advertisement is its main slogan. “Shift your enjoyment” means that Black & Mild’s filter tip cigars are to provide an alternative way of enjoying tobacco consumption. However, the ad fails to explain how this alternative is more beneficial than standard cigarettes or even other varieties of the company’s cigars. There is room for claiming that filter tips are safer in terms of consumer health, but this potential claim is bombarded by the large warning box on the top of the page which says “Warning: Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.” Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that advertisers had no intention to use rational appeal.

It is also possible that they could not find any logical explanation for how “shifting” to Black & Mild’s filter tips could be more favorable than other common tobacco products. Moreover, a strange element on the person’s heart region where his chest pocket resides creates a perception that Black & Mild cigars may cause severe heart-related issues. In addition to the absence of rational appeal that explains why the product needs to be bought, advertisers placed elements in such a way that they call consumers to avoid the company’s cigars.


The ad puts a large emphasis on emotional appeal in order to pursue customers. The person in the advertisement is wearing a pair of elegant glasses, a thick necklace, and is listening to music while smoking a cigar. There is jewelry on the hand that is holding the cigar. The advertiser’s message is that smoking a Black & Mild filter tip tobacco product makes the customer look more stylish, vogueish, and fashionable. However, there are some elements that do not combine with the notion of classiness well. For instance, the person is using wired earphones, while there is a trend toward wireless accessories. Also, the style is depreciated by the dimness of the image. The audience may perceive the dark environment as being related to pollution, and that Black & Mild’s cigars contaminate the human body. As with rational appeal, the advertisers failed considerably with appealing to emotions and the audience’s values. The image should have been much brighter and more saturated. Also, requisites should have been chosen more carefully to eliminate pitfalls.


Advertising products that deteriorate human well-being is not ethical. Therefore, manufacturers of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages often make self-contradictory and misleading claims (Moran 5). For instance, Black & Mild wants to position itself as a trustworthy manufacturer through the placement of a legitimate logo. A warning sign on the top of the page also indicates that the company operates under law and complies with regulations. The person in the ad is an adult, which may suggest that Black & Mild does not support the consumption of its tobacco products by unintended audiences. However, it sells commodities that negatively affect human health, and failing to mention this aspect of tobacco products should be considered unethical. Instead, the ad pursues that Black & Mild filter tip cigars deliver new levels of enjoyment. In other words, the ad does not provide full information about the health implications of the product, which negatively affects the company’s sincerity. The ad is not humane and fails to understand consumers’ potential concerns regarding well-being.


The majority of modern advertisements are effective in attracting new customers and pursuing them to buy the promoted product. This effectiveness is present because of increased spending on marketing efforts. Black & Mild’s ad of its filter tip cigars, however, can be considered a failure. Text components are placed without any system, which confuses customers. White space is not used to provide a hierarchy of elements and is entirely neglected. The combination of visuals, high contrast, and low saturation creates a negative perception of the product and suggests that the cigars cause pollution of the human organism. From an ethics viewpoint, the ad can be skipped because promoting hazardous substances is already unethical.

Works Cited

Moran, Meghan Bridgid, et al. “Beyond ‘Natural’: Cigarette Ad Tactics that Mislead about Relative Risk.” Tobacco Regulatory Science, vol. 4, no. 5, 2018, pp. 3-19.

Sharma, Nazuk, and Lisa Monahan. “Product Performance Implications of Framing White Space in Advertising.” Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 36, no. 7, 2019, pp. 977-985.