Advertising is a part of everyday life, and companies do everything they can to relate to us while poking our emotional triggers so that we want to buy more and more from them. But while today's advertisements take pains to not be offensive to anybody, ads from a few generations ago never worried about those sorts of things. The "back in the day" ads were normal for their time but for seeing them for the first time you'll be stunned that something so outrageous and offensive was allowed to run. Be warned, these ads are pretty shocking and in today's world there's no way nothing even close to this would ever be allowed to run.
1. The First "Rule" Of Lasting Charm
It must be pretty clear to you by now that most ads back in the day were aimed primarily towards women. Take this ad as an example. It went as far as calling women "beautiful and dumb" before selling their deodorant because they believed women were so dumb to buy anything they were told.
The deodorant brand also believed that the first rule of lasting charm was to smell good to attract a husband. After all, they would never find a husband without their deodorant, right?
2. What A Wifesaver
We all know by now that most of the advertising of the 1900s was primarily directed at women. It is because these advertising companies thought that women were their target market since women were expected to do the shopping back in the day.
Women still use kitchen appliances like in the past, but they have a better understanding of equality in the kitchen. We do not doubt that the oven wasn't a wifesaver, we are just pointing out that it could have also been a husbandsaver or just a humansaver.
3. A Cause For Major Uproar
If something like this was released today, we are 100% certain that it would’ve caused a major uproar. In this ad of the late 1940s, there are plenty of stereotypes that serve both men and women.
For instance, women had no other place to work other than the kitchen. And the ad also openly points out men are not capable of cooking themselves. If you find this unbelievable, you haven’t seen the worst yet.
4. Just To Grab Attention
We all know that most advertising companies use attractive people to promote their products and that's why you see many celebrities charging so much for a single ad. As compared to how it was back in the day, advertising companies have become more subtle in their approach. If you have any doubts regarding what we're saying, have a look at his ad.
This vintage ad from 1959 is a perfect example of how companies used attractive people to promote their products. Although the company was advertising a color projector slide, the content of the ad is questionable. It is because Sabrina was deliberately made a center of attention in the picture and the main reason for the ad, a color projector slide, was more of an afterthought.
5. Good Enough Reasons
Airlines today advertise themselves by claiming to provide the most luxurious air traveling experience, tasty food, excellent service, and cheap rates. But it wasn't always like this. In fact, back in the days, airlines used something else to promote their companies.
Instead of focusing on letting people know about the quality of their service, airlines focused on their flight attendants in hopes that the ladies would help sell the tickets.
6. A Hairdryer For Bald People? Interesting...
When it comes to advertising, a general rule is to make the product as appealing to as many people as possible. But there are products that can't be used by everyone. So, the marketing team behind this hairdryer couldn't accept the fact that bald people were not going to buy the product.
In this 1972 ad, the company hired a bald model to promote their Flip 'N Style hairdryer in hopes that even bald people will buy it because it was "fun to have."
7. Ah, Women's Web
We still can't believe they actually went through with the idea. The ad shamelessly mentions that a mistress is around the corner if wives don't get rid of morning mouth.
The ad warns that not using their breath-mints is a big mistake because the next "attractive woman" he meets is going to take their place. The spider web shows that a woman is just waiting to catch your man.
8. That's Pretty Self-explanatory
When you need to buy a car, you need so much persuasion since it's such a big purchase. There are so many car advertisements across history. While most of these advertisements have been directed at both men and women, there's no denying that most of them were directed just at one target audience in the 1960s: women.
This ad latched onto the stereotype that a woman can't be a good driver and they need things to be simplified for them. For the ad of Mini automatic, they hired the beautiful Goldie Hawn.
9. Just Stock Up On Mints
What this poster is inferring is that infidelity is quite a common thing for a man to do and it could happen to any woman if they don't fix their bad breath. It is because if they don't do it, their lovely and funny husband will be kissing some other lady.
We are pretty sure that it wouldn't be right to insinuate something like this in today's world. After all, the ad is condoning cheating. One wonders how many women of that time left their husbands for bad breath.
10. Women Purposefully Gave Themselves Morning Mouth...Hmm
This ad from 1953 is all about morning mouth and how bad breath can upset men. After all, morning mouth scares a man more than anything else, right? And how can a woman make a man fall in love with her if she has bad breath in the morning? After all, it is so unnatural.
It is a shame that the creators of this ad didn't know that morning breath can't be controlled. And no one purposefully gives themselves morning breath. To make matters worse, this mask that is more inappropriate than anything else in the ad.
11. The Youngest Customers In The Business
We are certain that parents now would strongly disagree with this ad. In fact, parents will never feel good to let their children drink soda at such a young age.
The soda company at that time took pride in having the "youngest customers" and this 11-month-old child was one of them. According to the company, soda wasn't unhealthy for toddlers. The company also suggested adding their soda in milk to make it a wholesome combination.
12. It's Breakfast Time
First of all, this ad looks like something in which a woman is praying to her husband and offering food to him. This ad shows how advertising was back in the day. After seeing it, we are sure that there were no such limits or guidelines on an advertisement at that time.
Everything about the image is questionable, but let's pause and just look at the details for a second. How is she balancing so much while kneeling like that, and did her husband went to bed in a fully pressed shirt and tie? And even if he didn't, then it means he dressed up and then went to bed again. It is so messed up.
13. Oh Boy, You Did Not Say That
This vintage ad from 1953 went unnoticed for a few years and no one really questioned it. But then, it became the center of controversy - and you know how controversial it was from the fact that it has its own Wikipedia page. What made the ad so absurd was that it showcased a new twist-off bottle cap that was so easy to open that "even a woman" could open it.
It was casual sexism that was quite common during the 1950s in the United States. By the way, the ad's first sentence was: "Easily—without a knife blade, a bottle opener, or even a husband!" The tagline below the first sentence was: "You mean a woman can open it?" And yes, the word woman was underlined.
14. Ladies, Apparently Bad Breath Used To Be Everything
It seems like men of the past didn't even experience any bad breath of their own, so they didn't give a chance to any woman who had a little stink coming from their mouth.
That's not it. The ad went as far as to say that a woman could lose her husband in a minute to another woman with a clean breath. They really took bad breath seriously at that time. We are sure women now would strongly disagree with it.
15. Vitamins And Their Impact On Women
Although vitamins can help improve our health and wellbeing, some vitamin companies during the mid-1900s tried to make people buy vitamins with the same approach as other companies.
You can see how the company directed their ad towards women because it knew that including words like "cooking, cleaning, and dusting" would catch their eye. After all, women only need to work at home and look good for their husbands, right?
16. Well, Now We Know
Hey, most of us know the rule that the best things in life are free, right? It seems like this company wanted to change it and so they came up with the notion that "The best things in life come in Cellophane."
We can try to understand why they wanted to show everyone that their cellophane is the best, but they could've gone with anything else. They could've wrapped chocolate or some sweets, but they decided to wrap a baby. Wow!!!
17. Not Smelling You Again
People use deodorants to smell good and keep the bad smell from affecting their "reputation." It seems like this vintage ad didn't care about smell coming from men. Instead, it targeted women with the notion that their smell would push away their husbands.
According to the ad, not using deodorant would even rob a woman of her popularity. And what is the best way to get that popularity back? Well, it's to use this specific deodorant.
18. "Pull The Cords"
The world of advertising hasn't changed a lot when it comes to promising people can look younger. Many products are aimed at reducing your wrinkles and covering up other imperfections (believe it or not, skin fairness creams are quite popular in most parts of the world).
Still, there have been some changes in beauty products. In 1890, this advert was released and we are quite sure that it wouldn't sell much today. It also looks quite painful, doesn't it?
19. Because Size Matters
Today there's a lot of debate about the differences between men and women, but we had no idea that the size of our hands has been a matter of discussion back in the day. It seems like it was an important enough issue to inspire a pen manufacturing company to come up with this idea.
The ad was released in 1965 and we're impressed by how they were boasting their product that was specifically designed for women and their small hands. We are sure that this ad will only cause uproar today because people know that men and women can use the same pens just fine.
20. Shave Early Without Any Safety
The advertising world can be really confusing sometimes and it seems like they make some decisions without even considering the consequences. Before releasing an ad, you're required to ask yourself who the ad is for. It seems like this company could've saved themselves from a lot of trouble by just asking themselves that question.
Take this ad as an example. The company behind this razor ad didn't consider that kids should never be near a razor. And yet they used a child to promote their safety razor.
21. Bringing Another Chef Into The Home
Although we see advertisements for many household appliances, we generally buy them because we need them and not because we're super impressed by the advertising. We buy household appliances to make our lives easier.
But things were different a few decades ago. This ad, like many others, focused on the female stereotype that women are only good to work in the kitchen, As we know that it is untrue today, this ad now looks cringy.
22. Ohh..kay, Got It!
Our list contains some vintage ads that have been insulting but in a more subtle manner. But this ad of 1959 didn't beat around the bush. Instead, it just went ahead and suggested that men are better than women. It also suggested that women are only useful when they are indoors.
The ad shows that only men can work outside and properly wear manly sweaters. We're sure that pretty much everyone would disagree with this ad if it was released today.
23. Mouthwash To Get Married Young
What you generally notice in vintage ads is that they usually involve women with a sole dream of getting married and cooking for him for life. Now, we have gone past that thinking but it was a lot different back then.
This ad from 1928 revolved around the theme of women getting married young. The ad warned young women that they need to use mouthwash or else they would remain the bridesmaid due to bad breath. Wow!
24. How To Catch A Man
Women of today's world don't feel that they must get married if they want to find a real purpose in life, but ads in the past used to disagree with it altogether. This ad pushed the idea that if women didn't want to be all alone, then they need to find themselves a man.
The ad also suggested that a woman should tempt a potential man by presenting him with a plate of delicious donuts. What do you think about the shackles behind the woman in this ad?
25. The Ideal Brain Tonic! What?
We have seen that many products have remained true to their taste over the years, but their branding and way of advertising have surely changed. Coca Cola is one of the leading sodas in the world and it doesn't need to promote itself because of its high demand. But back in the 1890s, the company wanted to outshine its competition.
So, they started to advertise the soda as a "Brain Tonic" because supposedly it helped in relieving mental and physical exhaustion and headaches. One wonders how many years of testing prompted them to come up with such a conclusion. It is really interesting to see how they were so certain at that time.
26. A Healthy Snack
We all know the candy parents give to their children is not filled with energy that the little ones need. But this company from the past wanted to spread a different message.
The company could never show their product in a negative light, so they suggested that candy can give energy the kids need and good parents always buy candy for their kids. Back then, advertising was all about telling people what they can and cannot do.
27. No Freaking Way
We are 200% sure that this ad would cause a lot of uproar if it were released today. After all, there is no fixed shape and size for humans.
And yet this company in the 1960s called people "chubby" because all they wanted to do was sell their product to people who were larger than "regular" sizes. They did make one right decision of not increasing their prices.
28. Deodorant Above All Charms
People today wear deodorant based on their personal choice, previous experience, and the price. That's why advertising is pretty tame as well because companies want more and more people to buy their products.
But things were different back in the day. This ad went as far as telling women that their charm meant nothing if they used the wrong deodorant.
29. TV Helps In Getting Good Marks, Really?
Most of us watch TV daily, we turn on a TV when we get back from work and on the weekends we like to watch sports, movies, news, and shows. But when it comes to children, most parents try to limit the amount of TV they watch. After all, parents don't want their children to be distracted from the real world.
Although there are benefits of watching TV, scientists do recommend that there should be no more than 2 hours of screen time for kids. But this vintage ad used to encourage parents to let their children watch as much television as possible so that it can help them improve their grades at school.
30. Of Course They Do
Back in the day, marriages only thrived in one important place in a home. No, not the bedroom but good try! It was the kitchen. This kitchenware company was in the business back in 1915 and their advertising in the past was something unacceptable today.
Their ad was all about how successful marriages start in the kitchen. Although we have so many questions to ask, we will only ask one: why is she cooking in her wedding dress?
31. Make Your Child Sleep Under The Sun
Every parent wants to raise their children well so that they can grow up to be healthy and smart. Maybe that's why this advertising ad is directed towards new parents. Even back then they knew that advertising directed towards parents is usually very successful.
But what makes this ad from the 1930s controversial is that it encouraged parents to buy sun-lamps so that their child could sleep under it. We are quite sure that no parent would buy it today, but then again, people buy some crazy stuff online.
32. DDT? What Is It?
Here's a tongue-twister for you. In the past, a chemical insecticide called Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was commonly used. Given that the chemical compound lacked in color, taste, and odor, people thought it was harmless.
Now, we know very well that the environmental impact of the chemical compound is lethal. So, you think that DDT was used as a cleaner? Wrong! This insecticide was also used in veggies, dairy, and other food products!
33. Wine Reduces Depression. Really?
This ad didn't shy away from suggesting that wine is the best solution to depression. Although wine may help some people, we cannot call it a solution. You can enjoy it with food and other occasions, but it was rather a bold claim from the company.
We feel like we need a glass of wine right now after reading through all of these ridiculous ads.
34. For The Love Of KFC
Who doesn't love KFC, right? Well, back in the day, there was another reason to love KFC other than its taste. The yummy fried food has always been appealing to people.
So, the ad was directed towards women who cook dinner for their men. The ad suggested that women could opt for a fast-food alternative if they felt too tired to cook.
35. Pretty Or Clever?
In this ad, a woman is looking back at the camera with a playful and seductive look in her eyes. The ad discusses how men are more curious about the appearance of a woman rather than her intelligence. So, it means that men at that time never fell in love with women who were smart and ambitious.
Beauty brands at that time had some seriously controversial marketing tactics. But then again, those tactics are still not completely gone.
36. Burn Calories And Lose Weight
We do agree that there are many educational reads that explain how doing chores and cleaning the house can help you stay fit. This cereal ad was for women says how cleaning up the house can help them in losing weight and stay fit.
The ad was directed at housewives who wanted to keep the home sparkling clean. Given that today we have a more body-positive environment, we're sure that this ad wouldn't fly
37. No Rest During Pregnancy
This ad is simply ridiculous as it shows how advertising was in the past. The ad was for nausea medication, which was directed at women so that they could use it during pregnancy. What's wrong with it?
Well, any person would think that the purpose of the medicine was to help relieve the stress and pain of the pregnant woman so she could relax. But that wasn't the case. The ad was for men who were missing their home-cooked breakfast.
38. She's Got A Washing Machine On The Mind
We are pretty sure that Jean's mind is on her pregnancy and not on new cleaning appliances. But it seems like the advertising company thought that's what women think of all the time. The company was happy to advertise their product thinking that it would help Jean clean clothes much better than before, how thoughtful of them.
We feel sorry for Jean as she is there thinking “I need more rest” and the husband is out there thinking that “I need to make my wife's life easier by buying a new washer dryer.” We can bet this ad would be banned if it were released today.
39. The Tagline Though
Well, the writer of the denim ad came up with a tagline in which they talked about pants both literally and metaphorically.
The wife might never wear the pants, but she spends time to purchase work clothes for her husband (oh, where is the tissue box). By the way, the ad is from the 1940s, so you can expect how it was at that time.
40. That's A Big Problem
So, the wife organized an amazing picnic at a park by making sandwiches and other tasty items, but her husband is not happy because his entire focus is on her outfit. It is because there are gaps in her skirt that require a fastener.
She knows it but she thinks that her husband will ignore it just like she slides every time she noticed his fly down. He shouldn't care about it at all because a wardrobe malfunction is not a big deal.