an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Archive for the ‘Vintage’ Category

Vintage Friday: Fairy Tricycle

Posted by Rosepixie on June 25, 2010

This is a tricycle newspaper ad from sometime in the late 1800s.

I’m sorry it’s so tiny.  The text reads:

Cripples, ladies and girls, if you want air or exercise, buy a Fairy Tricycle – foot or hand [unknown word].

Bicycles cheap for all.

What I found interesting about this ad was that it grouped cripples and women together.  Now, thinking about what women at the time were wearing, they were pretty restricted, but women did ride bicycles at the time.  Not only were “bloomers” invented to make it easier, but many women managed just fine in skirts.

Still, they weren’t really supposed to exert themselves, so this ad may have been partially suggesting that this tricycle was a way to get a bit of outside exercise with little actual exertion (after all, even a cripple could manage it just fine!).

Regardless, I think it’s still an interesting relic of an earlier time.  Think about the fact that this ad came out the same time women were making some of the biggest strides in our history – getting degrees at universities for the first time, demanding voting rights and rights of ownership and inheritance, opening schools and banks without men to guide or oversee them or even just pretend to.  It shows a pretty stark picture of the kind of thinking they were up against, doesn’t it?  Because this ad didn’t come out of a vacuum (like the ads today don’t) and it’s way of thinking had to have been at least expected as the norm for it’s audience.  How much more interesting is it, then, that the advances been made and fought for at that time were happening?

And how interesting it is to compare it to the views we see in today’s ads.


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Vintage Friday: Oil of Olay

Posted by Rosepixie on June 18, 2010

This is an ad from 1979 for Oil of Olay facial cream.

Well, at least we know from this commercial that looking young and products that make impossible and fuzzy promises about helping you do so has been around for at least the past several decades.  Which makes me sad.

When the guy shows up in this ad it suddenly reminded me very much of watching a cheesy soap opera.  I’m not sure if it was because of the corny line, the over-the-top poses or the dripping-with-fake-emotion voice.  Still, the comparison made me laugh.

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Vintage Friday: Ride-Sharing with Hitler

Posted by Rosepixie on June 11, 2010

This is a poster advocating ride-sharing from World War II.

The text reads:

When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!

Join a car-sharing club today!

Is it just me, or does this poster seem a bit… overdramatic?  I mean, it was definitely a worthwhile thing to get people to think about and do during the war, but doesn’t the phantom Hitler seem a bit much?  It just seems like the issue could have been portrayed seriously, simply and memorably in a more positive (maybe less scary) way.  Maybe showing that car-sharing helps keep troops fighting or something.

And is it just me, or does Hitler look kind of upset?  When I first saw this poster I thought he was crying, but now I don’t think he is, I think he just looks very upset.  If the guy driving the car by himself is helping Hitler, shouldn’t Hitler be happy about that?  The driver, on the other hand, looks pretty content… despite the phantom Hitler riding shotgun.  I’m not sure the artist of this poster really understood the concept here…

Posted in Advocacy, Vintage | 1 Comment »

Vintage Friday: Libbyland Dinners

Posted by Rosepixie on June 4, 2010

These are two commercials from the 1970s for Libbyland dinners (TV dinners for kids).

I think it’s cute that they sort of tell a very short story in each commercial featuring recurring characters.  I also like how they mix genres with the pirate ship, the cowboy, and the Snidely Whiplash look-alike villain.

What made me sort of raise my eyebrows at these commercials was “Libby the Kid (that’s Billy the Kid spelled sideways)”.  This would work if Libby wasn’t actually a real name, but it is.  The only thing I can figure here is that for some reason they didn’t want their hero being female.  Maybe they bought into the entirely stupid notion that male characters appeal to everyone while female characters only appeal to girls, or maybe it was even worse and they just couldn’t conceive of a female hero saving the day.  Regardless, the excuse that “Libby the Kid” is a “Billy the Kid” with his name spelled sideways comes off as pretty flimsy if you ask me.

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Vintage Friday: World’s Fairs in the 1930s

Posted by Rosepixie on May 28, 2010

World’s Fairs used to be a big deal.  They were the place to go to see the latest and greatest inventions, discoveries, art, music and more.  They were huge undertakings that drew enormous crowds.  Even though they generally existed in their own mini-villages of fantastic buildings, they tended to be hosted by major cities who used the worlds fairs to draw tourism to the rest of their attractions as well.  Today I have two posters advertising two different world’s fairs only a few years apart.

The Chicago World’s Fair – 1934

The New York World’s Fair – 1939

What struck me most about these posters was how very different they are.  Each represents something about the flavor and attitude of the host city.

The Chicago poster is bright and busy and the first thing I thought of when I looked at it was music – the visual cues suggest music in a variety of ways (lines on sheet music, radio microphones, etc.).  Music is such a cornerstone of the Chicago cultural identity that this makes sense.  The poster even has “hear” listed as something you can do when you visit the fair.

The New York poster is simpler, but evokes the iconic Lady Liberty, who is one of New York City’s most famous attractions.  It also gives the impression that New York is a city of the world, with the globe and people moving across the surface of that image to the fair and towards where New York is located.  This idea is one that is pretty central to New York thinking (even if the rest of the world doesn’t always agree with it).

I like both of these posters, even though neither tells you what’s actually at a world’s fair.  They’re colorful and eye-catching and both carry a lot of the flavor of the place where the attraction is located, which is a big plus for travel ads.

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Vintage Friday: Bell Telephone

Posted by Rosepixie on May 21, 2010

This is a commercial from the 1960s for the Bell Telephone company.

This is a great travel commercial.  It’s a lousy telephone commercial.  It is absolutely full of information, but none of that information has anything to do with what the commercial is actually for.  In fact, the voiceover never even states what the commercial is for!  He’s too busy going on about the mountain train and its history, which is admittedly very interesting, but also entirely unrelated to what he’s trying to advertise.

At the end of this commercial I wanted to ride a train, not make a phone call.  And trains make me think of letters and postcards, not phone calls.

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Vintage Friday: Vanish

Posted by Rosepixie on May 14, 2010

Today I have an ad from 1949 for a toilet cleaner called Vanish that I found on a blog.

The text reads:

Social Security Hint

Don’t let the “Ghost of the Past” cast reflections on you!

A “ghost” in your bathroom is socially distressing.  For sure protection against him, use Vanish, the double-action toilet bowl cleaner that (1) deodorizes (2) as it cleans.  Its bubbling action spreads a pleasant fragrance.

New Vanish kills toilet odors as it cleans

The “social security” pun was bad enough, but the drawing makes it look almost like the woman was about to draw on the bathroom mirror with lipstick when she was startled by the ghost holding (weirdly) a miniature outhouse.  Why a miniature outhouse?  Because they traditionally smell bad?  It still seems weird and I had to look at it twice to be sure that I was seeing it correctly.

I think this ad is on the right track, it just sort of missed the mark a little bit.  I actually think the social security joke is perhaps a little too subtle and the drawing is just too busy and strange.  The rest of the text paired with a simple graphic of the can would have been much better!  Still, it’s definitely interesting and caught my attention.

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Vintage Friday: O.B. – It’s Way You Should Be

Posted by Rosepixie on May 7, 2010

This is a commercial from the 1980s for O.B. tampons.

Ok, so this commercial manages to hit nearly all of my pet peeves for tampon commercials all at the same time!  It’s actually a pretty good jingle – the kind you remember and that gets the product name into your head.  Unfortunately, it contains absolutely no information of any kind.  The voice over isn’t much better.  It tells us about how the tampons are “rolled in layers” (with a helpful little cartoon graphic to illustrate this point), but doesn’t tell us why that’s good.

And through it all, we have women wearing primarily white spandex (one is even in a bathing suit) jumping around doing completely random things (seriously, what’s with the jump-rope telephone?).  Because white spandex and jumping and high kicks are *exactly* what I think of when I think about menstruation.  Not so much.

What this commercial doesn’t do is tell us what the product is for (what’s a tampon?) or why it’s better than any other tampons (yeah, it mentions layers, but not why or even if that makes the product work better).  It says happy, generic things like “keep it simple” and “set yourself free”, but doesn’t explain them.  How is O.B. simpler than anything else?  How does it set you free?  Is it more comfortable?  More reliable?  Cheaper?  Easier to use?  More discrete somehow?  And, again, what exactly is it?  We never see the product or get to hear what exactly it’s for – we just see a picture of the box and a graphic that looks like a blanket being rolled up.  So what exactly is the way we should be?  Because I’m confused…

The best I can figure out is that this is a product that will let me live in a happy two-dimensional black and white line-drawing world where strange things like telephone jump-ropes exist and everyone jumps around and dances all day.  That doesn’t sound like a tampon – it sounds like a drug.  Or maybe a whole lot of alcohol.  Either way, not really the way I want to be.  I like my colorful three-dimensional world.  How about you?

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Vintage Friday: Kellogg’s Krumbles

Posted by Rosepixie on April 30, 2010

It used to be fairly common for companies to create paper dolls to use in marketing or advertising their products.  Often these paper dolls featured mascots or modeled clothing from the company, but sometimes they were on a theme and simply used as a device to entice young customers to buy the product in order to collect the paper dolls (the same way McDonald’s encourages kids to buy multiple Happy Meals in a given time span to collect all the prizes from a particular toy line).  For whatever reason, using paper dolls for advertising went out of fashion after a while and no one really does it any more.  Still, many of these dolls are quite interesting.

This one is from Kellogg’s Krumbles (a breakfast cereal) and is of the collectible variety.

The text reads:

Around-the-World Cut-Out Dolls

Get the complete series


Portugal is the land of wine and olives.  Its children have appealing beauty.  Their costumes flash with many attractive colors.

Kellogg’s Krumbles

Why Portugal’s children have any more “appealing beauty” than children from other countries, I have no idea.  I love the costumes, though.  They are colorful and have a surprising amount of detail for paper dolls that were printed on the back of a cereal box!

Companies still use the “collect them all” strategy with marketing gimmicks (cereal still comes with prizes inside, products will come with a website code that reveals a “collectible” item or game, etc.).  There is something simple and appealing about these paper dolls, though, that is hard to find in many modern day collectible marketing items.  They were right on the box so you could choose the one you wanted before you bought the cereal and they were a complete toy that added little to the cost of production – once the paper doll was designed, it just needed to get printed onto a box that would have needed something printed onto it anyway!

I doubt you could convince a marketing company to try this technique today, but it is fun to look back at.  Marketing paper dolls were extremely creative in their hay-day and I may post more at some point.

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Vintage Friday: Edison Mazda Lamps

Posted by Rosepixie on April 16, 2010

This is a page from an advertising calendar selling Edison Mazda Lamps.  It’s from 1919.

Isn’t this image just beautiful?  I love how she almost looks like the light bulb in the little circle at the bottom.  The colors and shape are similar.  I have no idea if this woman had some special significance for the company or anything, but she is lovely and seems to glow in the night, almost like a lamp glows in the darkness.

The image doesn’t scream “buy our products”, but it does radiate warmth and light, which presumably is what the company wanted to associate with their products.  I kind of wish ads were still this beautiful, but it’s rare these days.  I’d totally buy their lamps based on this ad, though.

Posted in Electronics, Vintage | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »