51 Shocking Vintage Adverts That Would Get Banned Today
It's fair to say the world has changed a lot in the last 50 years or so. In a good way. Listed below are some of the most shocking and outrageous ads that by modern day standards would never see the light of day. Sexism and racism were rife in product advertising in adverts of the past. If an ad wasn't sexist or racist then it might have been endorsing cigarettes, guns or even giving fizzy drinks to babies. Du Pont thought it would be interesting to wrap toddlers in cellophane. It's all here in our collection of 51 shocking adverts that would get banned today. Be warned, many of these are very offensive.
1. More doctors smoke Camels
The thought of doctors recommending a particular cigarette brand doesn't get any less shocking no matter how many times you look at this advert. These were the days when everybody smoked and thought nothing of it. The fact that the owner of Camel cigarettes thought it would be a good idea to survey doctors and find out what brands they all smoked seems preposterous, but there it is. I guess it all comes down to trust and doctors have the ultimate trust bestowed upon them by the likes of you and me. Notice the "T-zone" diagram shown in the bottom right hand corner of the advert where it says "T is for taste" and "T is for Throat". You'd be doing well to find a doctor who smokes Camel cigarettes these days, but I'll bet there are some...
2. You mean a woman can open it?
I have a confession to make. I am a man and there are jars and bottles that I struggle to open (a beetroot jar in particular of late). So does this make me less of a man? This blatantly-sexist ad which is for some brand of tomato sauce gets straight to the point, presumably in reference to an easy-open screw cap that they have just produced. If the "weaker sex" can do it then so can anyone, is the claim. They've underlined the word "woman" as well, in case it went over your head.
3. Baby drinking 7-UP
In the current modern day climate "sugar" is the new evil. Forget tobacco, alcohol and saturated fat. It's sugar. So this advert takes on a whole new shocking level. The kid in the picture looks like he hasn't even reached his first birthday but here he is happily guzzling 7-Up from a bottle (and yes - it is a woman's hand at the end of the bottle). You must be asking yourself this question: did the woman open the bottle, or did she ask a man to do it? Next up for the kidling is tomato sauce, straight from the bottle.
4. Kellogg's vitamins for pep!
Oh you little tigress, cooking, cleaning and dusting and yet when I get home you're still full of beans. When the man gets home from work he's shagged out. Ladies, if you want to see the positive in this Kellogg's vitamins ad then you might realise that the man acknowledges that the woman has been cooking, cleaning and dusting all day and he is surprised she is not tired. Therefore, he acknowledges that she has been working very hard. I know, it's not much is it. However, Kellogg's vitamins are a cunning ruse. She doesn't take them and she hasn't been cooking, cleaning and dusting all day. With a husband like that let's hope she has been keeping herself full of beans some other way. You decide.
5. Blow in her face and she'll follow you anywhere
Or how about, "blow on her face and she will punch your lights out"? This starry-eyed woman is transfixed by the man blowing smoke in her face. She clearly does not take the adverse health effects of inhaling secondary smoke very seriously. The question she should be asking here is what the hell is he smoking? Real men (and doctors) smoke Camels. Not those airy-fairy type brown cigarettes that you need a cigarette holder in one end, for goodness sake. She's wearing false eyelashes too, which makes her look even more misty-eyed. But she's not the guilty party here. HE IS!
6. Give yourself a Christmas gift
I don't know about you but I couldn't think of anything better than treating myself to a new gun. Oh wow, especially at Christmas!! [Note. read all those words in a very sarcastic tone]. Now the US has got a great big fat gun culture and many US citizens love their guns. That is a debate for elsewhere. But wherever you stand on it, this advert glamourises gun ownership on a whole new level. You have really, really got to wonder....
7. Love's baby soft
Now this one takes us into a very dark area indeed. The creators of this advert must surely look back on it and wonder what on earth they were thinking. Where was the responsibility? This taps in to the beauty pageant culture but it takes on to a whole new level. In simple terms, the aim of this advert is to sell more deodorant by sexualising a child. Repugnant, even by the standards of the day.
8. Start cola earlier!
Well, the baby is full of 7-Up and is probably getting bored of it by now, especially with all those nightly feeds. So it's time to change things around a bit and see if he likes cola as well. Does he? You sure as hell bet he does. Just look at that face. And just look at those incredible health claims such as "promotes active lifestyle" and "gives body essential sugars". OK, we didn't know then what we know now, but by the time this vintage cola advert came out we were on the way to putting a man on the moon and had built (and used) nuclear weapons. So is it not so much to ask why we never knew that cola drinks like this were full of crap and shouldn't be given to babies? In fact we went one step further, we promoted it for babies. "How soon is too soon? Not soon enough". You have to question those laboratory tests.
9. Show her it's a man's world
We are back in the land of sexist country once again in this Van Heusen advert and this time it's all about shirts and ties. Not only is the good lady serving breakfast to her man in bed, but she is also kneeling before him like he is some kind of god. First question: why is he wearing a shirt and tie in bed at all? Second question: is he wearing trousers? Third question, why are his hands behind is head? We must wonder if there is a another lady out of the shot pointing a gun at him (she treated herself last Christmas to a Colt "Woodman") and the man is being served arsenic tea which he will be forced to drink. Whatever it is supposed to mean (other than a flagrant attempt to downtread women) it doesn't mean to say that women will fall at the floor in front of you if you wear a Van Heusen shirt and tie. I tried it and didn't find it to work. Nor did I get breakfast in bed.
10. Begin early - shave yourself
We enter into a new category here with this vintage Gillette razor ad and it's called the "frankly downright weird" category. I mean, this is downright weird, right? A baby slaps on shaving foam and brandishes a razor happily giving himself (or who knows it could be a she - it's dumb either way) a shave. Well OK, I think they are saying that by using this razor you get a shave so smooth your skin becomes like a baby's skin, but why the mental imagery? Yes it sticks in the mind but that takes me back to my previous point. It's downright weird and cringey. Since those days of course Gillette have come up with the cunning idea of adding extra blades to their razors. But wait, sorry Gillette - beards are back in fashion!
11. Born gentle
Babies, motherhood and cigarettes. They go to together like....fire and ice. Quite what is being suggested here in this cigarette ad goodness only knows but it's clear to see that the advertiser is targeting young mothers. Maybe that's so they pass on their smoking habits to their children? It's appalling whichever way you think about it. These are gentle cigarettes, we read. Gentle like the care of a mother to her baby. I'm sorry, I'm lost now in whatever message it was supposed to be. At least she's not holding a cigarette and the baby at the same time.
12. Flip'n Style hair dryer
Weird and freaky is this old Panasonic ad, presumably celebrating a woman's triumph over her alopecia and the irony that she feels holding one of these hairdryers. Or have Colt brought out a new gun? It looks like Flash Gordon would have used this. The advert grabs your attention whichever way you want to look at it, but the question is, since she can't dry her hair then in what way does she find the hairdryer "fun"? Perhaps it's a fun way of drying out spillages on the floor, although I'd suggest there are quicker ways of doing that. Maybe it's a personal heating device. Oh I don't know. It's a ludicrous advert that would never see the light of day now.
13. Marlboro baby
14. Sherpa's vital statistics
15. World's largest lemons
16. Four out of five men
17. Beer will change the world
18. Fairy soap
19. Grow your own weed
20. Hamlin's wizard oil
21. If your husband ever finds out
22. Jeans that turn a dude into a stud
23. Just one minute, young lady
24. Fat as pigs
25. Keep her where she belongs
26. Mattel's marauder
27. It's nice to have a girl around the house
28. Cocaine toothache drops
29. Christmas morning Hoover
30. Cheez whiz
31. Screw the battle
32. Cheating made easy
33. Is it always illegal?
34. It's easy to dye with Diamond Dyes
36. Where there's life...
37. Pig slicer
38. Don't worry darling, you didn't burn the beer
39. A Christmas to remember
40. Most men ask: "Is she pretty?"
41. Dandy valentine
42. We wrapped these twins in cellophane
43. Spread your legs
44. Butter is slippery
45. It can happen here
46. Santa Claus smoking
47. Wake up gay
48. The ideal brain tonic
49. Lets get down to business
50. Did you ever see a fat Chinese
51. Men love fannies
- Tags: Vintage advertising
- Robin Webster