This was perhaps the most noticed (and the longest running) of all the ads in Hindustan Thompson Associates’ (HTA) ‘Made for each other’ series for Wills Filter cigarettes. This ad is a scan from the April 1989 issue of The Calcutta Skyline.

Wills Filter ad - 1989

Made for each other

Wills Filter set the filter trend in cigarettes long years ago. Today it is still the finest. In taste, in satisfaction. Hand picked virginia tobaccos married to an efficient filter make it so. Millions of smokers have discovered it, then stayed with it.

Wills Filter
Filter and tobacco perfectly matched

Statutory warning: Cigarette smoking is injurious to health

One of the most popular cigarette brands in India – Wills Navy Cut’s advertising campaigns has the highest recall value. Their ‘Made for each other’ campaign spanned generations of cigarette smokers with the common theme of a couple having fun – in the beach, at a port, in the rain, inside the kitchen or reading a joke book in the living room.

In 1969 ITC, the manufacturers of Wills, introduced the Wills Made for Each Other contest to select the perfectly matched couple. Which half forms the paper rolled tobacco and who’s the filter is a topic of an unending debate. In 1971 a pack of Wills cigarettes cost Rs 1.20 for 20; 60 paise for 10.

The girl in ad is reading Larry Wilde’s The Official Polish Joke Book, that is “Guaranteed to make you laugh! (even if you’re Polish).” The book is a two-in-one book, as is also evident from the image in the ad.

The 2010 documentary Polack searches for the source of the Polish joke in America. Polack is an ethnic slur for people of Polish origin in US.

Polish jokes often portray the Polack as dumb, which is common for ethnic jokes. But additionally, Polish jokes are unique in their portrayal of the Poles as dirty. (Additionally, there are some jokes about promiscuity, especially in reference to women).

Other Filter Wills/Wills Navy Cut advertisements from Cutting the Chai archives:

  • Richard

    The 1970’s and into the 1980’s was a time when the mainstream “American” media was viciously attacking Polish people with ethnic slurs that they packaged as “Polish jokes”.

    It was quite hypocritical that the mainstream media (led by Hollywood and NBC-TV) would introduce Nazi subhuman intelligence jokes about Polish people into the US, since this same media DEMANDED that the American people not make any negative jokes about their favorite ethnic groups, like the Jews and the Black people.