Old School Cool: Sketchy Vintage Ads We’re Glad Are Gone
Article by Marc, filed under Guerilla Ads & Marketing in the Design category.

Old fashioned values are often espoused as something we’d like to aspire to, whether in our personal lives, or in business. When a deal used to be sealed with a handshake, the world must have been grand. Take a quick glance at advertisements from long ago, and those that are frightfully recent, and you can see how far society has come (and in some cases, how short a distance). From bogus remedies and health claims, to outright abusive and misogynistic images, here are 33 disturbing vintage advertisements we’re glad are gone:

(Images via joannecasey, vintagecatalog, kitschy-kitschy-coo, foundshit)

If only we lived in the past, when cigarettes weren’t bad for you, as proved by scientists and doctors alike! Even Santa lit up a smoke on those long sleigh rides on Christmas Eve. These are some of the most humorous ad examples, as they stand in such contrast with today’s attitudes toward tobacco products.

(Images via pzrservices, ngc2632, funnyphotos, breakupgirl)

Domestic abuse is a violation of any moral code, and not something that should be mocked, but it is especially inappropriate as the content for an ad campaign. Some of these ads were not created that long ago, and it’s startling to see how casually abuse and disrespect were celebrated with a wink and a smile.

(Images via kitschy-kitschy-coo, giovannicalabro, mamamona)

Imagine living in an age where cigarettes and tape worms were touted as effective weight loss aids. I’m sure a lot of the bogus weight loss supplements we sell today are no more effective than a sugar pill, but I feel confident saying none of them were as outright ridiculous as intentionally infecting yourself with intestinal parasites.

(Images via popularwealth, saynotocrack, darkroastedblend, juicetheblog)

Children are quite effective when used in ad creatives, as who can resist the grin of a toddler? It’s clearly taken marketing teams quite a while to come up with their current formulas, as these examples hit far from the mark. In a society that likes to keep children innocent, it’s interesting to see how different views used to be.

(Images via jezebel, hpg123, patdollard, stephaniehillberry)

Housekeeping is unequivocally women’s work (or so these advertisements would have you believe). What greater joy could a woman get from life than the crispness of a clean sheet on the bed, or surveying the shining counter-tops of her kitchen? I’m quite certain women are glad to have shed these biases and such blatant misogynistic messages… but there’s still a lot of progress to be made.

(Images via herodesignstudio, neatorama)

It’s safe to say ad campaigns were not always incredibly sensitive. Consumers today would have a fit if a store tried to classify their children as “chubbies” and child protection groups would get chills if they saw ad images that glorified the “sexiness” of innocence.

(Images via katnip, weirdomatic, boingboing, theretroblog)

The image of the smiling, happy go lucky kid next door with the gap toothed grin has been prevalent in ad copy for decades. With so many ads being produced, some were bound to come off as strange. Even the slightest angle can change a child’s face from cherubic, to scary.

(Images via bakersfield, graphicmania)

Yet another example of a “what were they thinking?” ad image, and strange medical remedies. It’s no wonder older generations are always trying to fatten their granchildren up, as plumpness was clearly a sign of good health and a robust disposition.

(Images via emilyswindowseat, midnighttoke, biancasunshine)

Women are supposed to submit to their husbands, and please them in every way possible. It’s important then, to be sure you keep yourself and your clothing in perfect repair, or you might lose his respect, and love. This kind of messaging would be hilarious, it’s so ridiculous, if these ads had never been real. Since this is a glance into history, and not fiction, it just becomes disturbing.

(Images via pzrservices, fooffa, popularwealth)

It’s interesting that their aren’t any ads about the guy spreading disease, or being “good time guys”, but, unfortunately, this is a bias that’s still a very real presence in modern media. World War II spurred a lot of safe sex advertising, out of the fear of the troops becoming infected with debilitating illnesses that would leave them unable to fight effectively.

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