All posts by Mary

Memorial Day Picnic – Ad Style

Happy Memorial Day weekend in the US! As the unofficial start of summer there is one thing everyone wants to do: Grill Out! Let’s see what’s on our vintage ad picnic menu, shall we?

First up: hot dogs! So convenient in a can! I can see thousands of cold-war era backyard bomb shelters stuffed to the rafters with cans and cans of wieners. Why, the nuclear winter will seem like a picnic with all those hot dogs!

canned weiners
If you are trying really hard to get Middle Schoolers to laugh, you can’t go wrong with the phrasing “Can o’ Wieners” paired with “Sack o’ Sauce”
weironie
By “a little bit you you!” I’m pretty sure they mean “internal organs.” 

Or maybe we can tempt you with a hamburger, fresh from the tin?

burger can 2
“Say, I know! burgers in a can, ya see?” 

Let’s not forget the condiments! What’s a picnic without ketchup?

ketchup
Folks must have had a lot of time to read ad copy back in the day. I’ve asked Uncle Mary to call me his angel whenever I buy new ketchup, but he had declined. 

Or folks losing their minds over mustard?

mustard
This is everyone’s favorite style of vintage ad! It hits me right in the ad loving spot.

…and to wash it all down?

Booze.

Seagrams cookout
I have never wanted anything more than to be at this party. 
Brewers Memorial Day
If I can’t be at the Seagram’s party, can I be here instead?

Many wishes for a happy and peaceful Memorial Day!

Lysol will Save Your Failing Marriage, You Filthy, Filthy Woman

Gather ’round, Mature Adults, for another moment in Aunt Mary’s Advertising Storytime! Fluff the cushions on the fainting couch and prepare to clutch your pearls, because we are about to get personal.

From roughly the turn of the century to the 1960’s the makers of Lysol touted their product to not only clean your house, but to also save your marriage.

Ladies, are you having issues with your husband? Is he staying out too late? Withholding affection? Perhaps that last pregnancy made him a bit jumpy? Lysol is here to help! Not only does it clean your sinks, but is the key to marital harmony if used as a feminine douche. (I’ll let you take a moment to breath through that)

lysol door

Yes. The folks behind Lysol told women that the problems in their relationships are likely due to pregnancy and/or the crotch rot. The language used in the ads was a brilliant combination of negging and subtext. Evidently everybody knew the term “feminine hygiene” meant birth control, but thanks to strict moral laws prohibiting even the discussion of contraception, they couldn’t just come out and say it, but boy howdy did they get close!

lysol calendar

“We can’t tell you it’s birth control, because birth control is illegal, but…yeah…it’s birth control.”

Forget that most of these men were suffering from shell shock due to two world wars and a crippling economic depression. You are obviously the problem and if you really cared you would hose acid where the sun don’t shine.

The makers put out years of print ads encouraging women to use it as a spermicide, and (in my opinion) a combat to STIs. This practice was likely worse than nothing. Used as a contraceptive it was useless and obviously also harmed women’s bodies.

lysol lady

It all ended when the pill came out.

Car Commercials Throwing Shade

In 2014 Cadillac released its “Poolside” Ad, featuring actor Neal McDonough’s unapologetic and fast talking tribute to the good life.

Taking great pains to make fun of such goofy things as Europe, bad luck and actually taking your vacation time, Cadillac boldly insists the time is now for the well-off to come out and proudly proclaim what they haven’t really been hiding: “Yo! I’ve got money!”

The first line of that ad asks “Why do we work so hard? For Stuff?” and and finally answers its own question with “Yeah, stuff is good!”

The commercial is slick, smirking, and the patter is so fast-paced and clever it actually has a Gilmore Girls vibe to it. It boldly smacks its chest and dares you to to decline the American dream.

In answer Ford had one response…don’t be a dick.

Opposed to Cadillac’s use of an actor, the commercial for Ford’s CMAX hybrid features “Real Woman” Pashon Murray, founder of Detroit nonprofit Detroit Dirt, an organization that creates urban gardens in order to help keep food local.

While brilliantly matching the Cadillac ad scene for scene, arched eyebrow for side glance, what really is impressive is the stand alone nature of the spot. You need not have seen the Cadillac ad for Ford’s to make sense, but it sure does make an even stronger impression if you have.

While McDonough’s delivery is of mocking and hubris, Pashon’s is more impassioned and hopeful. Furthermore, the only other humans in the Cadillac ad are the presumed family of the speaker who are lounging around a well appointed and so-clean-it’s-sanitized house. The folks in Ford’s spot are at at work in kitchens and gardens literally getting their hands dirty.

Obviously the target markets for these cars are wildly different, which is probably why Cadillac didn’t shout “unfair!” too much. I have to give much credit to Ford’s ad agency (Rogue) for a fast and thoughtful response to a fellow car maker and neighboring company.

Yes, treat yourself and enjoy life, but remember your community…n’est pas?

 

For more info on this ad battle, see this article from Ad Age

You Gotta Have Art!

I’m obsessing over the Comedy Central Show “Detroiters.” Not only is it seriously funny, but it features Detroit in amazing fashion.

Slow Roll? Check.

Coney Dogs? Yep.

Vernors? Oh Yes.

This week they showed off one of the truly magical places in the Motor City: The Detroit Institute of Arts. With its world-class collection and beautiful building located in the heart of vibrant Midtown, The DIA is a gem Michiganders are rightly proud of.

Obviously, seeing the Diego Rivera fresco on TV sent my thoughts to one of the best local commercials ever produced: the 1970’s TV ad for the DIA. Anyone of a certain age who grew up in Metro Detroit knows this ad.  As a kid in the 80’s I thought the commercial was super corny but now it’s oh-so-70’s vibe finally feels sort of refreshing and charmingly retro.

 

Just to press the point on how cool the DIA is, check out this photo. You may be cool, but you’re not this lady sitting in the Kresge Court in the DIA cool.

dia-kreskie

Big Game Snacks!

Superbowl Sunday is almost here! For we ad nerds, it’s a huge deal and I hear some other folks, mainly sporting enthusiasts, also enjoy it. Look at us all coming together!

Whether it’s the ads or the athletics that lure you to the warm glow of a television, there is one thing we can all agree on: Snacks! Everybody loves the snacks! Do you like salty? Sweet? Meaty or veggie? There are snacks for you, my friend!

If you are especially committed to the football theme, Aunt Mary may have some retro recipes to help you out.

ap-football

Do you have an inflatable football-shaped bowl, and not a thing to put in it?

Goal!!!

football-chili

Let’s harken back to the days of helmet-free football and government mandated chili meat.  (Best not to ponder too long on what made him “Jet Propelled.” All I’m saying is its an ad for chili…)

Touchdown!

meatloaf-football

You know what they say, nothing goes better with football shaped meatloaf than a side of gum!  Incidentally, we have seen this campaign for Wrigley’s Gum before, over at  Aunt Mary’s Facebook page. Glad to see they branched out to all manner of events!

Home Run!

Be sure to join me this Sunday on the Aunt Mary Facebook page for my second annual live blogging of the ads. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Go sports!

Let’s Shelf this Idea -More PR Spin

It’s a charming characteristic of old houses, one that folks on HGTV demand and MLS listings proudly announce – Built In Bookshelves!

But why is this a thing?

In the 1920’s and 1930’s book sales began seriously lagging and book publishers started to seriously freak out. How could they get more people to buy more books?

e-b-heart

Enter our old friend, inventor of modern PR, Edward Bernays! Uncle Eddie was hired by a group of book publishers and given one mission: make buying books cool.

The first thing he did was hire public people to espouse the importance of a private library. Only the coolest, smartest, best dancers with rock hard butts read. You read too, right?

Then (my favorite!) he urged architects designing the popular kit homes to include built-in bookshelves in the plans. ‘“Where there are bookshelves,” Bernays reasoned, “there will be books.”

It worked! Book sales took off. Next time you walk into a charming Sears Kit Bungalow that has built-in bookshelves, take a moment to give props to Ed!

 

An Ad that Changed the World – Really

In 1964 Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater were locked in battle for the presidential election of the US. With two months until election day, LBJ released an ad that would not only lock him in for the seat, but also change the face of political advertising.

Named “Peace Little Girl” it became to be known simply as “The Daisy Ad.” A young girl counts the petals on a flower as the camera comes in for a close up. When the camera reaches just her eye, a military countdown begins ending in a mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb with a voice-over of LBJ speaking about loving each other or perishing together.

While the race was never particularly close, LBJ’s lead widened after the ad aired and he easily won re-election come November.

What makes this ad amazing is two-fold.

  1. It only aired the one time, on NBC during the Monday Night Movie.
  2. It never once mentioned Barry Goldwater’s name, but the message was clear – he will take us to war.

The commercial was created by advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach, who are famous for their simple, yet compelling, graphic-driven ads. One of their most enduring and well known campaigns is for Volkswagen, making the teeny Beetle a hot ticket despite the US culture of huge cars and a not-too-distant memory of WWII.

vw-lemon

The girl from the Daisy Ad reemerged in October of 2016 in a campaign ad for Hillary Clinton.