12 crazy vintage household ads
"Why we have the youngest customers in the business..."
We were surprised to learn that the message behind this ad is "exactly what it claims to be," according to Michael Cousin, modern marketer at digital media company Star Moose. At the time this ad ran, which Cousin guesses was in the 1950s, there was very little regulation of advertising, so advertisers really just relied on self-regulation.
"A lot of people believed that soda had medicinal properties," Cousin reminds. "I certainly wouldn't give my kids soda so young today because of the sugar."
Wives, cry a little
"Look this ad over carefully. Circle the items you want for Christmas. Show it to your husband. If he does not go to the store immediately, cry a little. Not a lot. Just a little. He'll go, he'll go..."
"This ad says plenty about the times," says Margaret King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis. "Appliances, literally, were life-changing for women - they were a major reason women were able to find time to become socially mobile." We suppose that
"Sabrina demonstrates the world's finest projection equipment..."
"Looking for boys-in-the-backroom sex stereotypes? Check out this ad from 1959," says Jamie O'Boyle, senior analyst at Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis. "The ad is for Bell & Howell, Australia - that means it's far earthier humor than the U.S. like most British-based humor. They still do much raunchier commercials than we do."
Woman gets a spanking
"If your husband ever finds out..."
"America was the first generation out of the backwoods and off the farm after World War I. Bawdy humor was bred out of them as the country became middle class," King explains. "The spanking version scenario was the male equivalent of the still living tradition of 'men are idiots' ads for selling household products."
During uncertain times
"The good friend you don
For the lazy husband
"To every man who needs a good excuse for 'getting out' of the dishes..."
Noted on its eBay listing, this General Electric dishwasher ad is from 1952. "This was a time when women
"Mother, you look wonderful tonight!"
According to an eBay listing, this General Electric ad was from 1939. Tuten finds this ad funny because although it's vintage, the message is similar to those found in ads today. "Here we have a young woman -- but she's also a mother. She could begin to feel that she's lost her young. But no, with GE appliances, they do the work for you and you can stay young," she points out. "Even her young son recognizes her vivaciousness."
"The women this ad was aimed at knew firsthand the liberating effect of the mass availability of household appliances," adds O'Boyle. "They have the free time and energy to get all dressed up and go socializing instead of collapsing from exhaustion."
Gift for her, pre World War II
"The gift she'll enjoy..."
This print advertisement of a food mixer from 1941 promises to simplify lives. Martin Brady, director of consumer marketing for Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc., points out that the target audience for this ad was men.
"Women may have influenced the purchasing decision, but the purchasing power was most likely still tied to the primary breadwinner in the household," he explains. "Fundamentally, the purpose of small appliances has not changed in their role to help make things easier, faster or better.'"
Gift for her, post World War II
"Ways to please a lady..."
Not much has changed. This print advertisement of Proctor's kitchen buys was from 1948. Although World War II "was one key driver that shifted women
We're on your side - really
"We don't believe in work for women..."
This 1953 ad for Apex appliances found on eBay - automatic washer and dryer, a floating roll ironer, a sink with cabinet and a vacuum cleaner - claims to save hours from the housewife's life.
Wallace believes the slogan gives mixed messages. She says it would've been a misfire if women aspired to work outside of the home. "The ad would've been more effective if it included desires and aspirations of what women wanted to do," she adds.
For the domestic goddess
"Any woman who does anything which a little electric motor can do is working for 3 cents an hour!"
This 1926 ad found on eBay for General Electric monogram appliances can lead to a few interpretations. Tuten says, "The message here could be taken as one of the following: 1) Be a wife, not an appliance. 2) If electricity can manage hard tasks at a trifling cost, how demeaning for the wife who must perform the tasks manually. 3) Is this what a wife is worth - 3 cents per hour? 4) My work as a housewife is priceless - for everything else, there are GE appliances."
"The ad hits home on so many levels," Tuten adds.
"Perfect gift? Nobody could miss!"
This Manning-Bowman appliances ad, found on eBay, reminds Tuten of Jared jewelry commercials. "The key message being, you should have gone to Jared or he went to Jared," she says. "Brides should want these items. Why? They make the perfect gifts!"
These days, we'd prefer jewelry though, men.