Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ads that could turn your heads

Vintage ads of the 'Mad Men' era

It's the least important most important business out there, as Don Draper might put it. Advertising: a field that has awed, inspired, tricked, and smeared, all at once, and to the tune of $150 billion each year. The industry saw its heyday in the 1960s--if you watch AMC's "Mad Men," you know this--with iconic ads such as the Marlboro Man (whose creator was the basis for Don Draper's character) changing marketing messaging for good. Looking back, of course, many of the ads from that era--women caged in the name of martinis, messages to "trust your banker"--don't quite translate to the modern day. With the finale of this season's "Mad Men" approaching

Caged in the name of a dry martini: for cocktails, as this Martini & Rossi ad puts it, "that purr."

Each walk down the "welcoming carpet" of United Airlines will be as exciting as your first, this ad promises--from the "beautifully decorated" plane interior and "roomy" seats to the "relaxing cocktail" your stewardess will provide. Today? It'll take more than a cocktail to keep you from a panic attack

We'll assume "Enter like a lady" means with grace and elegance, but with all the fine text about "tops" and "rears" in this Lincoln Continental ad, you know where our minds are headed.

Pink hair spray for men: just feminine enough for the modern hipster. This variety of "Habit Rouge" (French for "hunting coat") promises to add lustre, shine, and keep a man's hair neatly in place. And if you were worried about a sticky mess? Don't. Habit Rouge, the ad makes clear, can go straight onto your head!

This early '60s ad for Pall Mall cigarettes promises a "tastier," "milder" smoke. And, apparently, a girl along with it.

Rubber, this ad explains, is a "vital part of an electric typewriter": it serves to keep type even. But new Chemigum rubber, from Goodyear, is better than ever--for even faster secretaries

This credit card ad, from Bankers Trust (now isn't that an oxymoron) claims the company can block your credit-card number from being used by a crook within just four minutes of you calling to report a lost card (if you happen to remember your card number). If only it took modern-day identity thieves that long. Also, the ad promises that after you call about a lost card, "Lots of other things happen too."

We're not exactly sure how one would use TV to teach by telephone, or why there are quotations around "telephone," but we love this ad for "Educational TV" anyway.

Local food movement? What's that? This Union Pacific ad touts the role of railroads in keeping your food affordable and convenient.

OK, we know this one, for Tennessee Gas Co., has a lot of text--but it's a gem. Our favorite bits: "It's difficult to imagine a world without gas and oil," the ad touts--but "fortunately, there's plenty." "The more gas and oil we use," the company continues, "the more we discover." Don't we wish it were true.

Olin chemicals, this ad claims, make "water wetter, soap cleaner, lipstick smoother." Apparently, they're also good for kids' skin.
"With security precautions, special paper and incredibly intricate engraving, American Bank Note leaves nothing to chance," this ad proclaims, touting the merits of INA, the company that insures engraver ABN. If only insurance companies and securities still had the reputations they did 45 years ago...

"Take the trudgery out of shopping," this ad, for Yellow Pages, teases. Who wouldn't, if your fingers looked like that?

A man needs a "good excuse" to buy a $9 bottle of whisky for himself, this Crown Royal ad claims. If whisky were still that cheap, we hope he'd buy himself the whole darn case.

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