From rampant misogyny to questionable medical advice, we count twenty vintage ads that would never see the light of day in the modern world!
15 – Palmolive Soap,
- Palmolive is a well-respected soaps and detergents company, but this short-sighted vintage ad shows they definitely don’t always get it right.
- With a bold, generalisation about the sexes, the ad suggests that women need not bother with being clever. Cleverness won’t help them fulfil their ambition in life: winning a man’s affections. According to the ad, men back then didn’t care about cleverness; they were only interested in women who were pretty.
- So buy Palmolive beauty products, ladies, and lock down your very own douchebag.
14 – Chubettes Clothing,
- The Bible tells of the first man and woman on Earth, and this ad reveals how our culture’s very first eating disorders came to be.
- Is your daughter on the plump side? Well, slap that Twinkie out of her hand because she can and should look as pretty as her slim friends. Hey! I’m just reading what the ad says.
- Chubettes make fashion for ‘plump girls’, as the ad so delicately puts it. Their garments have ‘slenderising magic’ that are cleverly designed to minimise extra pounds. The slogan, which was no doubt conceptualised by a board room full of out-of-touch old men, promises that young girls can have ‘a tummy and still look yummy!’
13 – Cocaine Toothache Drops,
- Do you suffer from debilitating toothaches? Nowadays you can Google your symptoms, which, after a half hour of false cancer diagnoses, usually leads to the most obvious conclusion: you need to visit your dentist.
- But people in the 1950s didn’t have smartphones, or search engines, or cat videos, so they often blindly followed the advice of advertising. This ad by Lloyd Manufacturing Company recommends toothache sufferers – especially children – try a product called cocaine toothache drops. It costs only fifteen cents and, according to the ad, it is an instantaneous cure.
- Unmentioned side effects may include dilated pupils, chattering teeth and complete insanity.
12 – Antell Hair Products,
- Apparently, in the 1950s, making light of suicide in newspaper advertisements was as normal as smoking cigars for breakfast.
- “If my hair looks such a mess one more night, I’ll kill myself!” this ad for hair products announces, mirroring the sentiments of women all across the country.
- But wait, ladies! Put down that noose, revolver and vial of poison because Antell have just the product for you! Their Formula 9 hair product will solve all your hair woes, so you can save your hilarious over-exaggerated suicide plans for a rainy day!
11 – Sega Masturbation Innuendo,
- These Nineties ads might explain why Sega is no longer in the console game.
- The first is for their groundbreaking Sega Mega Drive console. Beside a hand gripping a joystick reads the slogan ‘The more you play with it, the harder it gets.’ I guess back then gaming was the pursuit of pimply basement dwellers, so maybe an ad that awkwardly alludes to masturbation was a stroke of genius – pun intended.
- The second ad, for Sega’s Game Gear handheld system, abandons all that subtlety for whatever the hell is going on here. Riffing on the old wives’ tale that masturbation causes blindness, this ad promises that you can ‘play with yourself for hours’ without going blind. The Game Gear will also fulfil ‘all your wildest fantasies’.