It’s nearly impossible to look back on ads from the mid-20th century that often featured egregiously sexist material and think that they would be appropriate today. Not only is the world a very different place than it was a half-century ago. But the majority of these ads weren’t really even that appropriate for their time.
In the vast majority of these cases, that was entirely the point. Misogynistic ad-men straight out of AMC’s Mad Men knew all too well that sex sells – as does controversy.
So what were the consequences of glorifying these sexists stereotypes? It’s undeniable that these shameful portrayals of women harmed society for many generations after they were running. But it seems that the only future that really mattered to them was how many months it took for their campaigns to run. They calloused and careless about the actual impact of their actions.
As long as their ads did their job and sold products, companies kept pushing the envelope as far as they allowed to do so. And as sexist as these ads were, they were only successful because of one thing in particular; the customer. When someone bought into their rhetoric and whipped out their wallets. That was the success that those dastardly advertisers were after. And from there, more of the same vile content churned out hoping for the same profitable results.
Of course, even back during that era, people found their tactics to be offensive and morally reprehensible. But a few strongly worded letters of condemnation sent via the US mail to the companies in question almost always ignored. Because, at the end of the day, all that mattered to them the bottom line. Public outcry just signaled that their efforts were effective at stirring up controversy. And as we all know too well, any publicity, good or bad. is good publicity,
But these days, with social media services like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at everybody’s disposal. Everything from outmoded chauvinistic sentiments to minor typos are put on blast in public forums. If these intentionally repulsive vintage ads were run in today’s socio-political climate. We can pretty much guarantee that there would be a major backlash against them.
Let’s take a reflective look back in time at some of these outlandishly misogynistic ads from yesteryear. Hopefully, if we learn from our mistakes, history won’t inevitably repeat itself like some fear. Sometimes the only way for us as a society to move forward is to look backward. So let’s dive on into these murky waters, shall we? Join Facts Verse to learn more Vintage Ads That Were Almost Too Sexy for Viewers.
‘Show Her It’s A Man’s World’ – 1951
Van Heusen Men’s World ties ran an ad campaign back in 1951 where they claimed that their products were ‘for men only’ and that their ‘power-packed patterns’ reminded women that they lived in a ‘man’s world’. And by wearing their ties, men could make women ‘so happy’ that it was.
In one print ad featuring these slogans, a woman can be seen in a subservient posture presenting her husband with breakfast in bed. The message was clear. Men were the breadwinners and women owed their existence to them. Oh yeah, and donning a brand new Van Heusen necktie was the perfect way to assert this message. Can you imagine what would happen if this ad ran today?
‘Good Thing He Kept His Head’ – 1960
Mr. Legg’s brand trousers weren’t anything special. Dress pant brands were a dime a dozen back in the mid-20th century. To spice up their ad campaign, the advertising gurus over at Mr. Leggs decided to throw in a little bit of sexist rhetoric in hopes of driving up sales of their mundane clothing line.
‘A display of affection is great… but enough is enough. She couldn’t keep her hands off him. Always the little hugs, the pats on the cheek. Sly pinches. It could drive a man to the license bureau.’ read the ad in question.
They followed up this nauseating bit by adding that ‘it all began when he wore his first pair of Mr. Legg’s Slacks. But he kept his head; now everything’s under control’.
Then came the call to action, with the ad urging prospective customers to ‘try a pair of Mr. Legg’s’ and to ‘get ready to dig’.
Why must he dig you might ask? Well in the print ad, a woman is seen buried up to her neck in sand. The ad instructed consumers to purchase their wears to find out if she had perfect legs.
Hey, not to get too off-topic, but if you’re enjoying this video so far, do us a favor and give it a like and subscribe to our channel. And don’t go anywhere just yet. Stay tuned to discover what the ‘secret’ to wooing a woman’s heart really is. Join Facts Verse to learn more Vintage Ads That Were Almost Too Sexy for Viewers.
‘Blow In Her Face And She’ll Follow You Anywhere’
Tipalet brand cigars – which were basically Black and Milds– insisted that the way way to a woman’s heart was by blowing harsh flavored tobacco smoke directly into her face. ‘Hit her with tangy Tipalet cherry. Or rich, grape-y Tipalet Burgundy. Or luscious Tipalet Blueberry. It’s wild’, read their outrageous print ads.
Apparently, just a puff of that eye-stinging smoke blown into a woman’s face would make her follow a man wherever he went. Honestly, anyone who just had atrocious cigarillo smoke blown into their face would probably do just the opposite, don’t you think? Join Facts Verse to learn more Vintage Ads That Were Almost Too Sexy for Viewers.
Broomsticks Brand Pants – 1960s
We’re not entirely certain what this ad was trying to imply. It indicated, however, that wearing Broomstick’s slacks entitled men to harass half-naked women in a group setting. Five men were seen grabbing a woman wearing only her underwear while the text of the ad urged the reader that if they didn’t want to play their way. That they should take off their pants and go home – whatever that’s supposed to mean. To be real though, that creepy bit of advertising just seemed like an endorsement of sexual assault.
‘A Cigar Brings Out The Caveman In You’ – 1959
The Cigar Institute of America ran this utterly unhinged ad in 1959. The text informed the reader that smoking cigars would somehow tap them into their dormant primal nature. The next line claimed that ‘there’s a man-size feeling of power in smoking a cigar’.
While those statements on their own weren’t particularly scandalous. The image accompanying them featuring a man in a business suit holding a club while an attractive young woman sat at his feet was particularly unsettling. Join Facts Verse to learn more Vintage Ads That Were Almost Too Sexy for Viewers.
‘It’s Nice To Have A Girl Around The House’ – 1960
Mr. Legg’s brand slacks certainly were consistent with their deplorable ad campaigns. You got to at least give them that.
In this perplexing ad, a woman can be seen depicted as some kind of half-human half-tiger chimera who had been turned into a floor rug. A man stood on top of her ‘pelt’ with the words ‘it’s nice to have a girl around the house’ plastered below.
Below that message which was awful enough read another block of text that took the whole thing to an entirely new level of flagrant grossness.
‘Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her.’
The ad went on to gloat that it was the man’s Mr. Legg’s branded pants that made her ready to ‘have him walk all over her’. Join Facts Verse to learn more Vintage Ads That Were Almost Too Sexy for Viewers.
‘You Mean A Woman Can Open It?’ -1953
Alcoa Aluminum put out this revolting ad back in 1953, but make no mistake, it was offensive even by that era’s standards.
The ad declared that even a woman could open one of their glass bottles easily without the assistance of a knife, bottle opener, or even her husband. According to the ad, all it took a ‘dainty grip’ coupled with an easy. Two-finger twist’ to open up a bottle of ketchup. Join Facts Verse to learn more Vintage Ads That Were Almost Too Sexy for Viewers.
‘So The Harder A Wife Works, The Cuter She Looks’ – 1939
Didn’t you know? All women exist solely for the amusement of men, right? Well, at least that’s what this noxious ad for Kellogg’s Pep brand vitamins wanted us to think.
The ad featured a comic of a man asking his wife what her secret to looking so amazing was after a hard day of cooking, cleaning, and dusting. She of course replied by informing him that it was her daily use of Pep Brand vitamins that kept her looking so marvelous. Join Facts Verse to learn more Vintage Ads That Were Almost Too Sexy for Viewers.
‘How To Hold A Husband? Two Words; Whipped Cream’
Back in the day, supposedly the best way to keep your husband around was by garnishing his desserts with a spritz of Reddi-Wip whipped cream.
This ad encouraged wives to impress their husbands by planning a nice little dinner featuring his favorite foods followed up with a serving of pie ‘glorified’ with Reddi-Wip canned whipped cream. Finally, women no longer had to slave away over the mixing bowl to prepare the sweet fluffy stuff for their husbands.
With Reddi-Wip ready to go in the refrigerator, they held the keys to their man’s undying devotion. Thank goodness!
Griffin Shoe Polish Ads – 1950s
The ad guys over at Griffin Microsheen decided that the best way to promote their stain boot polish was with a little help from these hyper-sexualized pinup girls. Because, what better way to sell something as mundane as shoe polish than with a little bit of old-fashioned, tried-and-true, sex appeal.
These ads ran throughout the 1950s. And a few of them that we didn’t choose to include in this video were way more X-rated than these are. Join Facts Verse to learn more Vintage Ads That Were Almost Too Sexy for Viewers.
‘Congratulations Dear, But….’ 1960s
Long before the glory days when Jell-O pudding featured convicted – and acquitted – sex offender Bill Cosby pitching their jiggly snacks. They ran these sexists ads that implied that a woman’s ‘natural’ place was in the kitchen. One such ad, and there were plenty of them with varying messages, indicated that a woman. Even though she was an assistant vice president for some sort of corporation. Ought to occupy her time by whipping up a bowl of the pudding of all things. Join Facts Verse to learn more Vintage Ads That Were Almost Too Sexy for Viewers.
”Because Innocence Is Sexier Than You Think’ – 1975
What could possibly be creepier than sexualizing children to sell beauty products?
This ad for Love Cosmetics line of body lotions, powders. And bath products claimed that their goods made women irresistible, with that ‘clean baby smell’, that was ‘grown-up enough to be sexy’.
The text of the ad was accompanied by a picture of a young. Presumably underage model clutching a teddy bear clearly implying that youth was the ultimate ‘holy grail’ that men should be looking for.
‘Want Him To Be More Of A Man? Try Being More Of A Woman’ – 1974
Emeraude perfume not only made this vomit-worthy statement in their ad from 1974. But they also implied that they knew what being more of a man or woman really meant.
The ad suggested that being a man used to mean having 16-inch biceps, or driving faster than everyone else. But ‘today’, they declared, it meant being strong enough to be gentle.
For women, on the other hand, Emeraude explained that being more of a woman previously involved playing hard to get, but ‘today’ it meant not acting at all.
‘Are You The Right Kind Of Woman For It?’ – 1970s
The Mistress Collection By fashion brand Funky was promoted back in the 70s with yet again another sexist ad campaign. The company informed women that they could light their man’s fire by dancing to calypso beat while drinking champagne from a bottle and wearing nothing but an Edwardian rose behind her ear. Yes, the message was clear. Flaunt your sexuality to please the man of your dreams.
‘Don’t Get The Freshest Coffee? You Might Be In For A Spanking!’ -1952
Apparently, back in the 1950s, nothing went better with a nice, piping hot cup of morning joe like a little slice of domestic violence to keep things lively.
Chase & Sanborn ran this incredibly disturbing ad back in 1952. In it, they all but endorsed the practice of men bending their wives over their knee and giving her a spanking if they didn’t ‘store-test’ to find the freshest coffee to appease his fickle palette.
Well, we could easily go on for hours showing you what the ad firms of the past thought were suitable ways of moving their products, but we think that you probably get the idea of what they were up to back then.
In the comments section, let us know which ad you found to be most shocking.
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