ca. 1919---1950's

The Philip Morris & Co., Ltd.'s famous "Call for Philip Morris" advertising campaign dates to the First World War. A drawing of a bellboy carrying a tray with a box of cigarettes on it was the original mascot, but this campaign is best remembered because of a real-life bellboy named Johnny. Diminutive Johnny Roventini was just four feet tall, but this small man had the strength to carry a tobacco company on his shoulders. Several luxury cigarette brands had to be revamped during the 1930's Great Depression, including Philip Morris in the "Little Brown Box." Because of the poor economy, this clam-shell box in all its variations (Cambridge, Morisette, Blues, Ambassador, and Banquet) took a back seat to the Philip Morris English Blend Cigarette. Introduced January 1933 in a tobacco brown soft pack and priced competitively at 15 cents, this new Philip Morris, with Johnny's help, was about to become one of the five best selling cigarettes in America. In April 1933 Johnny Roventini was hired to make a "Call for Phil-ip Mor-rees" on the different radio programs sponsored by the tobacco company. Philip Morris provided a cute little American Austin convertible, plus chauffeur, to get Johnny to the live radio broadcasts on time. Johnny Roventini spent the rest of his life as a famous radio and TV personality. This ambassador of good will was a friend to movie stars and everyone else that he met; he sat in Marlene Dietrich's lap, during the war he patriotically tried joining the Coast Guard Auxiliary, shared a dinner table with General and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, clowned around with Red Skelton, sat ringside with Jack Dempsey, and participated in numerous parades and other public events.
die-cut card ca. 1920s graphics
oxford blues
sample box of 4

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*NOTE* All images are copyright by James A. Shaw. Reproduction of any kind is strictly prohibited without prior express written consent...