Throwback Thursday: ads of the 50s

Don’t get us wrong: we love all things new, shiny and digital – you only have to follow us on Twitter to know that much. But what with the end of Mad Men rearing its sad head and a continuing nationwide obsession with all things ‘vintage’, we thought it might be fun to throw ourselves right back to those brilliant, and occasionally unbelievably sexist, ads of the 50s. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the good, bad and weird ads that have graced our screens and magazines over the last 60-odd years – celebrating the groundbreaking and bizarre in equal measure. Be sure to take to Facebook to let us know which ones we’ve foolishly left out – go on, don’t be shy.

Christian Dior: Diorama

This deserves a mention simply because it’s an advert aimed at women that doesn’t involve a patronising illustration depicting a stove or an aggrieved husband. Nice one, Dior.

Credit: Pinterest/Dior

Guinness: guide to oysters

A lovely examples of 1950s content marketing, this Guinness poster from Ogilvy demonstrates what an excellent partner the stout is to oysters and cheese. In theory, we’re not totally sold – but the copy includes the phrase ‘that noble liquor – the comeliest of black malts’ so we’re not going to argue.

Credit: Guinness/Pinterest

Stromberg-Carlson: hidden TV

We really like the idea that people who’d recently bought a TV were suddenly, inexplicably horrified by its presence in their living rooms and felt compelled to hide it. It’s also kind of funny that the living room depicted is a hipster dream. All things come back around, etc, etc.


Credit: Stromberg-Carlson/Pinterest

Spam: bean Spamwich

Wow. Just wow. ‘Had enough of boring old predictable sandwich fillings? Time you used precooked meat slices and baked beans instead!’ Uniquely unappetising and yet impressive in its own special way.

Credit: Spam/Pinterest

Green Giant: Niblets

When did that familiar jolly green giant transition from terrifying Grinch-like monster to friendly, if rather large, gentleman? We much prefer the modern-day version who doesn’t wield huge spears of red lighting.

Credit: Green Giant/Pinterest

Schlitz: silly wife

This baby’s done the rounds on all the ‘You Won’t Believe How Horribly Sexist Everything Used To Be’ articles, but it bears repeating. Just look at it. Shudder.

Credit: Schlitz/Pinterest

Scotch tape: fringe cutting

Ummmm, really? Pretty sure this is a terrible idea. Scotch tape has many uses, yes – but haphazardly taping your child’s hair to its face and snipping along the inevitably wonky line? Sounds like a recipe for playground mockery from where we’re standing.

Credit: Scotch Tape/Pinterest

Gaines Viso Gurtel: catvertising

We think Gaines Viso Gurtel was a French fashion house, but this poster rather reduces the importance of the company’s products. Why? Well, it’s catvertising before Grumpy Cat was even born, before the endless memes and about a thousand brands started using animals to sell anything from phone contracts to platform shoes. Congrats, corset cat. You were ahead of your time.

Credit: Gaines Viso Gurtel/Pinterest

VW: think small

This hyperfamous VW ad from DDB started an advertising revolution. Its successor, the also-pretty-famous ‘Lemon’ ad elicited venomous criticism from Don Draper himself in season three of Mad Men. But we kind of like it.

Credit: VW/Pinterest

7-Up: date night

What is happening here? What is that man saying to that helpless Basset Hound? Poor mutt. That said, everyone seems to be having a thoroughly spiffing time on date night – so who are we to judge? Also, let’s just take a moment to consider 7-Up’s slogan: ‘You like it… It likes you.’ Creepy much?

Credit: 7-Up/Pinterest

Tune in next week to see our top 10 ads of the 60s. Warning: will definitely contain psychedelic imagery.