Tag Archives: vintage

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!

Back to School, Back to Cool (Ads)!

School is back in session and so is the Storytime! It’s been a great summer but it is time to get back to the work of perusing ads in all their many forms and glories.

Let’s kick off this season of learnin’ with a bevy of back-so-school ads.

Staples seemed to have it together for a few years there, dominating the school supplies market.

When I ask people about their favorite ads (yes, I do that) this commercial is often brought up. Even if you are totally geeked about your kids going back to school, this just isn’t nice. Funny and relatable, but not nice.

 

Here’s Darnell from “My Name is Earl” being super cool.

 

Also, these ads from my copy of Parents Magazine from September, 1950.

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1950, when the hot trend was for middle schoolers to look like tiny insurance salesmen.

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I found this ad fascinating because it was advertised to parents during the post WWII building boom. As communities worked to keep up with infrastructure demand, someone thought to nudge the parents. I would love to know if it worked!

 

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Does Stride Rite make these shoes in adult size because I’m totally in. The hat too.

Recipe Wednesday

Oh, you didn’t think I would stop posting vintage aspic recipes, did you?

pea aspic

It’s going to be a longgggg car ride home after this dinner party. Pea and salmon aspic, with sides of deviled eggs, radishes and more peas?  The fight for the bathroom will be the stuff family legends are made of.

By the way, Del Monte, that is a lot of copy in this ad. All I’m saying is nobody would call the Green Giant a chatty Cathy…

Radio’s Favorite Food Expert

Kids, Aunt Mary has gone down the rabbit hole, and like Alice my eyes have been opened to a new and fabulous world.

A friend gave me this adorable and very pink promotional cookbook that I thought would be perfect to share with everyone. It’s kitschy and charming and unlike a lot of retro recipes, it’s not gross. As I like to think of myself as Fun and Fancy, I thought it was a perfect fit for a mid week Facebook post.

Scanning in the cover I saw the book was presented by Mary Lee Taylor.

Well, who the hell is Mary Lee Taylor? I assumed she was some B-list Betty Crocker. I began searching online and was pretty sure Google was going to come back with a palms-up shrug and an “I dunno.”

Nope! What popped up was an Aunt Mary trifecta: retro recipes, clever PR and a groundbreaking woman. We will unpack this mystery woman a bit, but first, here are some things it would be helpful to know:

  1. It was very common for food companies to come out with promotional cookbooks featuring new ways to use their products. These are still highly collectable.
  2. Historically, women have been what we would call “early adapters” to emerging industry. Often working for lower pay and offering more collaboration, women were on the forefront of many new media including stunt journalism, advertising, radio and later TV production.
  3. Radio programs were generally sponsored by a product that was looking to target an audience. The radio program would be tailored to engage that audience. For instance, detergent companies looking to attract women to their product would sponsor daytime dramas, which later became known as Soap Operas.

Erma Perham Proetz was working as a copywriter for a St. Louis advertising firm starting in the 1920’s. By some evidence she seemed to already be an expert in nutrition and cooking when the PET Milk campaign was handed to her in the midst of the Great Depression. Sure, she could have gone down the recipes-in-magazines lane, but she took a hard turn into radio. Under her pseudonym, Mary Lee Taylor, Proetz started hosting short radio segments offering wisdom, encouragement, household tips and yep, recipes featuring (and sponsored by) PET Milk to her listeners.

Advertising700

Soon her wildly popular segment expanded to 30 minutes and a national audience. The first half was a lighthearted show featuring a newlywed couple, the second half showcased Proetz and her recipes. This is when she started offering free-by-mail recipe books which were also incredibly popular.

This show lasted for 20 years! During this time Proetz moved up the ranks of her firm, finally becoming the executive vice president. Her other accomplishments included becoming a top leader of women in business in St. Louis and the US, being named by Forbes Magazine as an Outstanding Woman in Business, and she was the first woman elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame. Damn girl!

Sadly, the show did not make the transition to television and was cancelled in 1954, a decade after Proetz’s death. You can actually still find recordings of her programs today!

This is the sort of thing I love digging up. Start with an adorably retro and delightful recipe book and then find the heart and soul behind it.

I’ll say it again, every ad has a hidden story.

Torches of Freedom – Easter Parades and Cigarettes

Aunt Mary’s good friend and founder of modern Public Relations, Edward Bernays, was approached by cigarette makers who asked for help in expanding their brand to women. At the time it was considered unseemly for woman to smoke but manufacturers desperately wanted to target this untapped market.

Bernays hired the most glamorous and fashionable women to smoke while walking in the 1929 New York Easter Parade. The parade was a huge deal at the time and photos from it where published all over the county. Women, excited to check out the latest fashions from NYC, were also treated to an eyeful of the contemporary glitterati smoking.

Bernays described cigarettes to the press as “Torches of Freedom” the women could carry in order to show their equality to men.

Within months the market share of cigarettes to women exploded.

During this same time, the image of the modern woman had been given a makeover. The 1920’s woman was daring, lighthearted and eager to join in the fun with the boys. Young flappers were looking for a thin and flat chested physique that would allow them to play sports, dance, sneak into speakeasies and be free like never before. They also needed a symbol that would separate them from the generations before.

But, how was all this to be achieved? Well, with a cigarette of course!

Cigarette advertising began encouraging ladies to smoke instead of eat. The fat shaming “Instead of reaching for a sweet, reach for a Lucky Strike” campaign came out.

Kind of gross there, old timey folks.

 

 

A Diamond Ad Campaign is Forever

With Valentine’s Day in the recent past the feed of your favorite social media outlet may be crammed full of photos of engagement rings posted by would-be brides who are already scrounging Pinterest for the next big thing in wedding trends (it’s Boho). Obviously love and diamonds go together like a horse and carriage.

Or craft beer and brownies.

Or Adele and singing in your car.

But how did a rock become the symbol of love? Well, Son, you’ve been played.

Ring

In the late 1800’s a large cache of diamonds was found in South Africa causing the groups of British mine owners to band together to create De Beers Consolidated Mines. This created a monopoly that controlled all aspects of the diamond trade. Their new mission was to create the supply AND the demand for their products.

The goal was for couples getting engaged to consider a diamond ring part of the matrimony package. But how? How do you brand a product as both wildly needed but also precious and rare? Investigation had found the practical folks who had lived through the Great Depression and then WWII were far more interested in procuring useful items such as household appliances than in jewelry.

diamond ad
     Because of Anti Trust laws, ads could not mention       De Beers or even show jewelry. Instead they featured dreamy artistic images and sentimental copy. 

De Beers hired a fancy New York City ad firm to get the job done. The campaign was handed over to the “Women’s products” copywriter, Frances Gerety.

In a hurry, Gerety scribbled down the only tag line she could think of. She didn’t love it and her cohorts weren’t that impressed, but no one could think of anything better.

The slogan: “A Diamond Is Forever”

Yep, one of the most enduring slogans ever came about because, well…why not.

De Beers began papering ads everywhere and spreading the idea that a diamond not only proved the man’s love, but the amount of his love. A bigger diamond was not only proof of adoration but also showcase the success of the husband-to-be.

At the same time, De Beers began loaning jewelry to celebrities to wear to noteworthy events, such as the Academy Awards, further cementing the idea that diamonds were a sign of success and elegance.

Today, over 75% of American couples, and an increasing portion of the world, consider a diamond ring to be an indispensable part of starting their life together.

Just One Ad – The Secret Shame of Bathtubs

Our spotlight ad this week is a print piece for the cleaner Bon Ami from the 1930’s. The history buffs among us will remember this was the time of the Great Depression. We typically think of this era in terms of soup lines, the dust bowl and hobos, but I think we often overlook the thousands of small ways people were affected.

It took me far too long to understand the Bon Ami logo. Newly hatched chicks don't scratch and peck yet!
Don’t look now, but you’re cleaning your own bathroom! You go, girl!

On first glance this ad seems benign enough. A woman attending to her chores with the copy’s assurance that Bon Ami cleans just grand and won’t make your hands red. Sounds fine, but then you start to notice a few things. This woman is dressed awfully posh, she’s looking over her shoulder with an expression of slight…embarrassment? doubt? maybe a tinge of pride?… as a flush creeps along her cheeks.

The target market for this ad was well-off women who suddenly had to do without domestic help because of financial woes. I imagine families desperately holding onto a precarious social standing, while trying to conceal that they could no longer afford a maid and nothing says “I do my own cleaning now” like chapped hands. Certainly not as horrible as losing one’s house, but I can see where it would still be terrifying as you stare down the barrel of the unknown. Is this the first step in a financial free fall?

While some reviews of this ad state its intention is to make you feel bad about yourself, I read it more as a whisper of encouragement. “Yeah, things are hard and different now, but you can do it and here’s how.”