Spoiler Alert: Sex Sells
10 Vintage Ads Ward Cleaver Disapproves Of
I think we all know how advertisers love to strip off the clothes to sell us anything from alcohol, to cars and, yes, even clothes. That may seem like a ridiculous and shallow ploy to some of you. And surprise, it is!
But last time I checked, just because something is ridiculous and shallow sure doesn't mean that we won't secretly love it. And advertisers certainly know this. How else can you explain 90% of reality TV shows? And 100% of Bravo TV shows...
Before reality TV and multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns came along, there were still the pioneers of the "sex sells" frontier. Often times they're ads graced the pages of something history remembers as, 'magazines'. From what I hear, these magazines didn't have any internet connection AND they were filled with words! Words they expected us to read! Talk about demanding.
But while magazines may be disappearing, I can personally guarantee you that sex in advertising isn't going anywhere.
So the next time you see an advertisement of a topless woman in an ice bath, trying to sell you organic candlesticks...just say no. Those old tricks won't work on you.
Pairing beautiful women with sports cars is like second nature for advertisers. And
this 1964 Fiat ad didn't shy away from that cliche. In case you're confused, like they say in the ad, "Fiat is the hot one".
|1964 - Fiat. (via)|
Well, I don't really know how to introduce this one. That tagline is something usually reserved for the over-18 video store. And I suspect a few things have changed since this 1960's ad came out. Following this seduction strategy of blowing cigarette smoke in a woman's face can only guarantee you a return blow of mace into your own face. Not her number. Not her undying devotion. Just a swift dose of bottled agony. Dishonesty from cigarette adverts? Now I've seen it all.
|Late 1960's - Tipalet Cigarettes. (via)|
Yes, men are also objectified in advertising. Although this technique usually results in more laughs than swoons. Having said that...I do find it a bit curious that this sock company thought a group of naked men in colorful socks would be a good way to sell socks to men. It's even more curious that the bald guy with the ginger beard made it past the first casting call. He must have had a day off from his usual job of being the creepy guy in every "sexual harassment in the workplace" video.
|Esquire Socks - 1970's. (via)|
Sure, there was no Photoshop in 1959. But that certainly didn't hold back Bell & Howell from creating the most exaggerated bust they could muster. Because what says "Color Slide Projector" better than an artificially enhanced model named Sabrina? Go America!
|Bell & Howell - 1959. (via)|
Wondering what this image could possibly be advertising? Balloons? Watermelons? Telephones? Nope. It's actually lingerie. This has to be the only lingerie ad in history to use colorful things to divert your attention away from the scantily clad woman. I'm not sure I completely understand it. But that's okay because even with the mixed messages, I think this is one of the most memorable ads I've ever seen.
|Plaza 8 Undergarments - 1964. (via)|
Below we have the quintessential example of the "sex sells" theory. This is a 1970's ad that chose to use a completely naked man to sell you...you'll never guess...ready for it? Clothes. That's right, the shallower the better for the Landlubber Clothes Company.
"If you like this naked man, then you'll LOVE the clothes he's not wearing!"Maybe it's just me, but their tagline: 'Nothing is better than Landlubber clothes' - definitely sounds like they're saying that people would rather wear nothing than wear Landlubber clothes. Maybe they should have thought out that tagline a bit better?
|"I'm the new naked study hall teacher. You can call me Mr. Mustache." Landlubber - 1970's. (via)|
This is another phenomenal example of using nudity to sell clothes. But wear Landlubber completely failed, this 1962 Drummond ad passed with flying colors. Not because they replaced the hairy, mustached man for a beautiful woman. But because they acknowledged and directly addressed the ridiculousness of this ad...
"If you guys don't buy these new Drummond sweaters, we'll go right back to male models"
They sure know their target market. For better or worse, Landlubber could learn a thing or two from the sweater-hawking chauvinists over at Drummond.
|Drummond - 1962. (via)|
Another advertisement that knows their target market:
If you're a burly, bearded man who enjoys wearing a toga, and sipping on hard alcohol from a coffee cup, all while getting massaged by buxom toga-wearing bombshells...then Centaur is the only cologne for you!
Think I'm just exaggerating? Read their tagline and think again.
Because nothing says overcompensation like a cologne marketed as, "Half man, half beast, all male!"
|Centaur Cologne - 1967. (via)|
To end, I did my best to find the earliest example I could of 'sex sells' in advertising. The winner is this Ivory Soap ad from 1919. Sure it's not exactly R-rated content, but you can bet your jaded ass that this advert was as scandalous as it gets for 1919. That's 94 years ago! Ivory Soap's shirtless sailors beat Kraft's Zesty commercials to the punch...by about a century.
|Ivory Soap - 1919. (via)|
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