Here are some ads that would never work today, OMG!

When was the last time you saw an advertisement that made you cringe? Well, some of these ads would never have been approved in this day and age. Next up we’re going to look at old-fashioned ads that will make your skin crawl! So if you think ads these days are nothing to write home about, be prepared!

Keep them on your toes

The theory behind this ad was probably to show a woman who was so impressed by the man’s choice of shoe that she could not take her eyes off of it. The ad exemplifies misogynistic thinking to the core. The tagline, however, is blatantly sexist, although it is fine and good (although it demonstrates a lack of creativity as well).


In spite of the fact that the tagline “Keep her where she belongs” has nothing to do with selling the product, it could only have been added to suggest that women should always be at the feet of men. We have certainly come a long way since these types of ads were common, but there is still a long way to go.

You don’t want to strain your brain

There have been quite a few products that have lasted the test of time despite the constant flow of new products. Even though they may have had to adjust their marketing strategies and branding, those products remain staples in households around the world today. Coca-Cola’s initial advertising campaign has completely changed its game in surprising ways.


It’s no secret Coca-Cola is one of the most popular brands around, but when they started out in the 1890s, they marketed it as a “Brain Tonic”. They claimed it would relieve headaches and cure mental and physical exhaustion. 

1950s spanking of a wife

An opinion column in the website showed how common it was for men to spank their wives. Four men who were interviewed agreed it was okay to spank their wives when they made mistakes.


A husband spanks his wife because she bought stale coffee. This ad plays on the stereotype that women are second-class citizens at this time.

A Man’s World in the 1950s

You can guess where the ad goes when it is titled it’s a man’s world. In this ad for Van Heusen ties, the man wears a smart tie and sits on bed, which makes no sense since who goes to bed wearing a tie? From here, it goes downhill. A housewife on her knees is serving the man with great care and dignity, placing a wonderful breakfast on his lap.You can guess where the ad goes when it is titled it’s a man’s world. In this ad for Van Heusen ties, the man wears a smart tie and sits on bed, which makes no sense since who goes to bed wearing a tie? From here, it goes downhill. A housewife on her knees is serving the man with great care and dignity, placing a wonderful breakfast on his lap.


While it’s great to have breakfast in bed, the advertisement portrays women as second-class citizens, as with some of the other ads on this list.

Tiger Lady by Mr. Leggs; 1960s

The ad copy implies that the pants are so hot they would floor a tiger lady. The graphically violent ad sends the wrong message about what is acceptable.


A tiger lady with a miserable, glaring face. How does a consumer connect that with slacks? They wanted to create an ad that would be a lady killer type, but this is more of a violence against women advertisement. In the 1960s, women were fighting for their rights, so it seems this ad even tells men that Mr. Leggs pants would keep women in check. Gross.

Dummies’ Guide to Catching Men

This vintage ad doesn’t mince words when it comes to their opinion of women and their level of intelligence. You can see that many advertisements during the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s targeted women to increase sales.


According to the deodorant ad, this beauty is too stupid to realize that she should be using their product, implying that anyone using it has to be more intelligent. The statement “Beautiful but dumb” actually means that women are generally too dumb to think for themselves and will buy whatever is told to them.

Custom-made for you

Advertisers have profited from the differences between men and women for decades, however, they tend to focus more on the gender’s wants and needs than their physical characteristics. As women began to gain their voice in the 1960s, companies that noticed attempted to market differently to win them over.


Despite the fact that men were still making decisions, the problem was still there. This 1965 ad selling a girl-sized pen for a girl-sized hand did make a feeble attempt to appear as though they were supporting the women’s movement, but the underlying message of the ad is that women are smaller, and therefore cannot handle a man-sized writing utensil. 

Endangering children

Quite how this ad campaign made it to print is beyond us. It is understandable that creative minds can sometimes become blocked, so it is imperative to run ideas by colleagues to ensure they make sense. It is obvious that this was not done, since the ad makes no sense at all.


Aside from the fact that a baby does not need a razor, the repercussions of giving a sharp object to a child are unimaginable. Even an inexperienced person knows this.

Almost ready for delivery

It is usually the slogan that consumers can easily remember that makes an advertisement successful. This company tweaked the saying “the best things in life are free” to read “the best things in life come in Cellophane”. Kudos to them for being creative, right? Well, the creativity went too far.


Instead of using their product to wrap a lovely gift basket or a box of chocolates, they decided that wrapping a baby, in plastic, would be a great success. The stork is a cute touch, but it seems that a disclaimer should read, “This product is not intended for wrapping humans.”

Tennis Balls

People, this looks like the ad for a naughty club, or maybe for a “all-nude-tennis” game. But no! It’s an advertisement for a computer game. A computer game that is a tennis game. A tennis game on a computer. In the 1980s.


Using this image to promote a tennis computer game is strange. What should one expect when playing this game with 1980’s graphics?

The bottle that cures all

Having a glass of wine after a long, hard day is the best way to relax, right? Although a glass of wine can relieve stress, it is not recommended for those suffering from depression, as it can act as a depressant. During the 1940s and 50s, depression was rarely discussed, but we know all of these things now.


In spite of the fact that depression was rarely discussed, many companies announced that they had discovered a cure in their advertising campaigns. In particular, this ad claimed that their wine cured depression, the flu, and hangovers. Dog hair isn’t a cure, but it may bring you some cheer.

Healthy Eating

I could understand the original thinking behind this weird ad, but still… people… this ad would never pass through today. 


On the other hand, I wonder if these kids ever look back at this image in horror. On the other hand, they might have it enlarged and printed on canvas in their living room.

Advertising that is targeted

While targeting certain demographics has proven to increase sales for advertisers, some marketing campaigns have proven insensitive. Advertisers get the most bang for their buck by gearing their ads towards certain demographics. With social media, insensitive ads are quickly called out, and companies take immediate action to appease their consumers. However, this was not the case in the 1960s.


They advertised a free fashion catalog for girls sizing 8.5 to 14.5 and teens sizing 10.5 to 16.5, but the word they used to describe them was chubbies. While they were undoubtedly trying to be inclusive, their language was offensive and incorrect in reality.

The act of smoking (hot)

There’s no doubt these ads worked. Tiparillo created ads for young smokers and women smokers with the tagline, “Should a gentleman offer a lady a Tiparillo?”


Women can be found in almost every profession, and they used the tagline in almost every one of them. The problem is that they showed them hot and sexy in every one of them.

Wedded bliss with Pyrex

It is common for couples to hope that their marriage will last forever, and Pyrex knew that. Pyrex is a reputable brand that has been around for years, but their message in this vintage advertisement makes some promises they may not be able to keep.It is common for couples to hope that their marriage will last forever, and Pyrex knew that. Pyrex is a reputable brand that has been around for years, but their message in this vintage advertisement makes some promises they may not be able to keep.


The tag line “Successful marriages start in the kitchen” implies that if a newly married couple uses their product, they will surely stay together. According to Pyrex, “Pyrex will make failure-free cooking easy,” implying that marriages will surely fail if the wife’s cooking is not up to par. Way to put the pressure on Pyrex.

Hot Dogs!

Here’s an advertisement for hotdogs that you might see at football games, baseball games, or any other sporting event where large crowds would gather.


Reading Room 2020

It is no wonder that during the Great Depression, you would see hundreds of advertisements touting the hot dog as an all-time family favorite for people who could not afford more than a hot dog.

The Pin-Up (ski)

The Russian version of pinup-girl posters were issued by local party representatives who placed them in garages and other places where Americans put pinup girls.


Obviously, these are not photographs, but illustrations. And when in Soviet Russia, connect everything to industry workers. Even pinup girls.

1947 Postage Meter

There appears to be a woman getting tired of what the salesman is selling. The ad suggests the woman was reluctant to buy the contraption because she thought it would be difficult to use. This belittles women’s capabilities. The salesman persuaded her to try it, and she loved the results. It appears that women cannot know what is good for them unless men tell them what to do.


Despite the fact that the ad is for a postage meter, the headline asks when it is okay to kill a woman. This is a joke among couples, but it feels out of place when discussing postage meters.

Sun-deprived toddlers: Save them

Ad agencies specialize in targeting products aimed at children because parents are always looking for the next best thing to ensure their children are healthy and happy. 


Despite the fact that most parents are willing to sacrifice their hard-earned money for their children’s well-being, some products may actually harm them more than they help. This 1930s ad for a sun lamp suggests parents allow their infants to sleep under its rays. Even the wording suggests parents are starving their children when in fact the product could damage infants’ skin. Crazy, isn’t it?

DDT and Its Wholesomeness

DDT, or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, was a highly celebrated insecticide when it was first introduced because it was highly effective at killing mosquitoes. The colorless, odorless, and tasteless chemical was considered miraculous when it was discovered that fruits, vegetables, and steers grew larger on farms where it was used.


This vintage ad marketed DDT as a safe and healthy cleaning agent, even though it was already widely used as an insecticide. In 1972, when the EPA realized the devastating effects of DDT on the environment, consumers got a rude awakening when it was classified as a human carcinogen.

Make Your Wife Feel Special

Throughout the 1900s, advertisers marketed appliances to both men and women. They acknowledged that while women were the primary users of vacuum cleaners and ovens, men made the final decision to buy them.


By saying the product is a “wifesaver” in this ad, the advertiser catches the attention of the man while appealing to the women by pointing out how much easier their lives would be if they owned one. Previously, if you received a new oven or vacuum as a wife, you were considered spoiled, now you would need to explain yourself.

Being pretty hurts

The advertising industry has been making promises for over a century that their product will make women look younger, thinner, and prettier. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. This is unlikely to change anytime soon, but thankfully, the product itself has greatly improved.


Although this 1890 ad is promoting a chin reducer and beautifier, it looks more like a medieval torture device. “Curves of Youth” promises aging women that they can, once again, look like they did in their younger years with its catchphrase. The same message is sent with plastic surgery advertisements, even though it is not a big seller today.

It’s an antiquated concept

If this advertisement was released in this day and age, the company would probably go out of business. This marketing strategy was extremely popular among male executives during the 1940s and 1950s.


There were many ad campaigns aimed at proving to women that they belong in the kitchen, serving their husbands, or providing tips on how to get and keep a man. As a result, not only would this message offend women today, but also men, who might be irritated by the suggestion that they cannot take care of themselves. We have certainly come a long way.

A Gil-style picnic

Gil Elvgren was known not for his paintings, but for his pin-up creations. He could paint women in everyday situations and make them look inviting. 



We don’t know if Elvgren ever regretted being famous for this rather than for his art, but what’s done is done.

Charms that go to waste

Most people wear deodorant to prevent bad odor, so it is safe to assume that most people wear it. Because deodorant is one of those products where you become loyal to a brand when you find one that works, those companies thrive on repeat customers. Over the last few decades, executives have realized this and have cut their advertising budgets. Back then, deodorant was a competitive market, so things were done differently.


Because of the steep competition, deodorant companies chose tactics in their advertising that targeted women and boosted their insecurities. It is clear that, no matter how beautiful or charming you were, if you didn’t smell nice, you would not be considered.

Even a woman could drive these cars

The way in which cars are advertised to men and women is completely different, just like it is for appliances. Traditionally, men would be the decision-maker when the family purchased a new vehicle, but women had certain requirements to make their lives easier as well. Having enough trunk space for groceries, space for the children, and good gas mileage to stay on budget.


This ad for the Mini automatic looks like it’s geared towards women, but it’s really geared towards their husbands because women were becoming more independent by the 1960s. Men would be more concerned about their wives not being able to handle a normal-sized car if they saw a woman who looked nervous and then stated the car was simple to use.

There’s no better friend for a woman than KFC

Back when women were expected to stay at home, care for the family, and have a hot homemade dinner on the table when their husbands came home from work, Kentucky Fried Chicken opened its doors. As fast food was a relatively new concept at the time, KFC focused their advertising campaign on exhausted housewives.


Though the ad does play into the stereotype that women should be providing a meal for their men, the copy does seem to sympathize with how difficult it is for women to perform their household duties. Colonel Sanders’ statement that he is a “women’s best friend” and that he wants to help “weary wives and working women” indicates that he understands and wants to help them. In spite of the fact that KFC has been extremely successful since its inception, it must have worked. 

Revolvers made by Iver Johnson are safe for children; 1904

Iver Johnson claims to manufacture revolvers that are both safe to handle and easy to shoot and kill. It may or may not be the last ad that distastefully depicts children.


Advertisers thought it was a great idea to use a little girl holding the gun in their ad. Regardless of whether the gun had a hammer or not, it is a scary sight to see a child holding a gun.

Suggestions that are superficial

Some of the vintage ads include suggestions on how to be more desirable to men. Rather than focusing on advertising their products, many of them offer unsolicited advice.


This vintage ad shows a beautiful woman sitting at her vanity looking coyly over her bare shoulder at, what we can assume to be, her audience of men. It is implied that men are enticed by beauty rather than intelligence by the line accompanying the picture: “Most men ask ‘Is she pretty?'” So tell me, what are they advertising?

I appreciate your hard work.

You definitely work up a sweat when you clean in the spring! The advertising executives caught wind of this and decided to use the scenario in their marketing campaign, which is a win-win situation since you are clearing out the cobwebs and burning off some carbs at the same time.


Although the tagline “Keep up with the house while you keep down your weight” suggests being productive is good for your body, it also implies keeping the house clean and staying thin are important goals for wives.

Sexuality sells

The tactics used to promote a product definitely depend on the targeted demographic. When a product is being sold to men, a sexy woman is usually seen modeling with it. It has been done for over a century and continues to be done today because, as we all know, sex sells.


The interesting thing about this tactic is that, in most cases, the sexy woman outshines the product. For instance, in this 1959 ad for a color projector slide, Sabrina and her ample bosom dominate while the product itself is barely highlighted. It is understandable that a beautiful woman will catch a man’s attention, but the sheer amount of blatantness of this tactic is astonishing.

A candy-coated advertising campaign

Everyone loves candy, but we all agree that it should be eaten in moderation. While sugar is a delicious treat, when young children consume it, they experience a huge spike in energy followed by a sudden crash. Parents are acutely aware of the adverse side effects their children experience when on a sugar high. 


According to this advertisement, the company was well aware of the energy boost candy provides as well. Instead of hiding it from consumers, they capitalized on it by making mothers feel as if they had to feed their children sweets to give them more energy. In fact, they even claimed that a mother who is “smart” would buy it.

We are here to serve you

As a result of so many choices in the airline industry, it is difficult for them to keep loyal customers. While many companies focused their advertising slogans towards fair pricing, destinations, or onboard comfort, this one, in particular, actually started a trend by going in a completely different direction.


Although this vintage advertisement isn’t grammatically correct, it did tap into a marketing campaign that attracted businessmen (sex sells). To sell more tickets, they made their beautiful flight attendants the highlight instead of their prices and plush seats. 

Getting back to the Wifely duties

During the 1950s and early 1960s, the husband in a family made all of the financial decisions. In most households, if a wife wanted to purchase something, she would have to get her husband’s approval. Because of this, many ads that should have targeted women were instead directed towards men.


As an example, the advertising executives created a marketing campaign targeting their husbands in an effort to sell nausea medication to women suffering from morning sickness due to pregnancy. Even though a mom-to-be would gladly welcome relief, the ad states that if her husband buys her this medication, she will be able to make him breakfast again.As an example, the advertising executives created a marketing campaign targeting their husbands in an effort to sell nausea medication to women suffering from morning sickness due to pregnancy. Even though a mom-to-be would gladly welcome relief, the ad states that if her husband buys her this medication, she will be able to make him breakfast again.

The key to a stable marriage is fresh breath

In order to sell their products, ad executives targeted men with sex, while targeting women with warnings. They are warned that they may never get married, that they have to keep their home orderly to keep their husbands, and that their husband may cheat if they don’t use the product.


In this vintage ad selling breath freshener, the message is quite clear that a man will cheat if he is not happy at home. Despite the fact that men are funny that way, the tagline indicates that infidelity is not only inevitable when the wife is not perfect, but also understandable if one leaves the marriage.

A bridesmaid for life

In this vintage ad, the phrase “Always a bridesmaid, but never a bride” may have been inspired. Advertising companies focused on the theme that all women aspired to be dutiful wives who took care of all their husband’s needs, as mentioned above.


An advertisement from 1928 suggests that women with bad breath would never become brides, as if that were the ultimate goal of all women. While having halitosis is something one should address, compounding insecurity by insinuating that a woman may not be able to enjoy her fairy tale ending seems rather tacky today.

You’ve got a man in you

Women in today’s world do not have to catch men in order to be considered successful, but this was not always the case. Many vintage ads gave women “helpful hints” to avoid spinsterhood. 


You almost have to laugh when we see this old-fashioned ad. The first thing you see is a bride chasing a groom with the line “It’s leap year girls” suggesting that this is the year because you have one extra day to finish the task. Since most women believe that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the donuts are sure to do the trick! And lastly, the ball and chain behind her back suggests marriage is essentially a prison.

Gifts that are perfect

A testimonial was also widely used during the 1950s and 1960s. Although the copy for advertisements was most likely written by the advertising company itself, messages from “happy customers” were well received by consumers. 


You actually feel sorry for poor pregnant Jean in this vintage ad. In it, her husband is gushing that his bride is happy, pretty, and pregnant with her brand new washer and dryer. As if a woman going through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy would be thrilled with more chores added to her list. A much-appreciated gift would be if her husband did the laundry himself.

In the family, who wears the pants?

You may have heard of the archaic theory that the man should “wear the pants” in the household. It is true that this rule was adhered to in earlier decades, but it was usually an unspoken one between husband and wife. This vintage ad lays it all out there for all to see.


There was a time when wives often bought the clothes of their husbands, and denim was often worn by blue-collar workers at work. However, Lee’s ad went a step further by adding the tagline “I don’t wear the pants, but I buy them” indicating that this particular wife enjoys letting her husband make all of the decisions for her.

Highlighting flaws

Ads that targeted women were full of warnings, but they also depicted what was perceived as the ideal wife, while also highlighting her imperfections. With this tactic, all women were targeted, whether they were perfectly put together or not.


This ad depicts a woman who seems like the perfect wife, planning and executing a picnic for her husband in a park, happy, healthy, and eager to please. Her husband is clearly distraught by the small gaps in her dress instead of enjoying the moment. In essence, the ad tells women that if they fail to buy their fasteners, they will be looked down upon by their husbands.

Threats that go unheeded

In addition, we have to discuss the companies whose ad campaigns hit the nail on the head. Breath freshener ads seemed to be playing on women’s insecurities, and many of them seemed to threaten the clutches of the dreaded “other woman”.


This ad put it all on the table with the copy “There’s another woman waiting for every man and she’s too smart to have morning breath”. In addition to using scare tactics, this ruthless approach creates suspicion within the households of their consumers as well. 

French Ways of Doing Things

The United States produces some cringe-worthy advertisements, but they can’t compete with the French. Even though they tend to be more progressive when it comes to gender roles, their respect for animals is lacking.


By showing a pig butchering himself and being happy about it, this graphic ad intends to sell fresh sausages. In addition to the ad not being appetizing, it raises questions about whether French animals are treated ethically. With organizations like PETA, this marketing campaign in this day and age would cause a lot of backlash.

Approved by a physician

Thankfully, as gender roles have evolved, advertisers have had to adjust their ads to be more respectful towards women. The fact that certain products have lost their luster is not the only adjustment that advertisers have had to make. Due to the health risks caused by smoking, cigarettes are no longer considered “cool” as they once were.


Because cigarettes were so popular during those days, tobacco companies advertised often to entice smokers to switch brands. Smoking was quite common, whether you were rich, poor, young, or old. It was in this ad that Camels were referred to as the doctors’ favorite cigarettes, implying that they were healthier than other cigarettes.

A doctor’s recommendation

Camel took the marketing campaign a step further by praising this pictured physician, which seems to indicate that the previous advertisement gained favorable responses from consumers. The message was loud and clear, this scientist, diplomat, and friendly sympathetic human being was a proud Camel smoker.


It seems absurd today to have a doctor spokesman for cigarettes, but at the time, little was known about the dangers of smoking. Having a cigarette was a social activity that the majority of the population took part in. However, since the realization that smoking causes cancer and is addictive, we rarely see a cigarette advertisement.

A guide to advertising

In spite of the absurdity of taking dating advice from a marketing campaign, there was no shortage of ads that promoted smoking and misogynistic attitudes.


However, this is obviously not sound advice, as the tagline asserts that if you blow in her face, she will follow you wherever you go. While the ad suggests that women enjoy being blown smoke and that they find it wildly attractive, rest assured they will most likely find it very rude.

Santa’s recommendation

While copying competitors’ advertising campaigns isn’t the most ethical practice, if they benefit, anything goes. Take, for instance, this Lucky Strike advertisement.


Because Camel brand cigarettes were so successful with their doctor campaign, they decided to go one-up on them with a testimonial from Santa Claus himself. That’s right, Santa Claus was a big proponent of Lucky Strike, even suggesting people buy them as gifts for Christmas. Although this wouldn’t fly today, it just proves that nothing is off-limits when it comes to advertising.

Get them started early

When it comes to soft drinks, this beverage is one of the most popular in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest. It is recommended that you do not consume Coke and other sodas on a regular basis because of the high sugar content and caffeine content.


This vintage advertisement seems to be attempting to persuade parents to give their children the product during their “early formative years” to ensure a better start in life for them. Coca-Cola is the best way for your child to be their best.

Masquerade of the Morning Mouth

We can all agree that a person’s breath isn’t the freshest of smells when they wake up, right? Regardless of your oral hygiene routine, there may be some mornings when you need to brush your teeth before kissing your partner. Morning mouth is a natural phenomenon and cannot be avoided.



Apparently, if a woman has morning breath, she’s going to lose her man, according to this vintage ad from 1953. Apparently, they have discovered a cure for early morning halitosis, so that if you buy their product, your marriage will be happy. In spite of today’s preposterous notions, women were afraid that if they didn’t buy these products, they would wind up living a spinster life.

The Schlitz Beer Company; 1950

The lady in the picture looks like a homemaker cooking. It’s likely that the ad was meant to be humorous, and maybe it was in the 1950s. Black smoke rises from the pan in her hand as she appears to have ruined the food. Despite her obvious disappointment, her husband puts his arm around her and assures her that they still have beer despite the food being ruined.


This picture plays to the stereotypes of the 50s where the ideal female was groomed to be a pious housewife while the man was the breadwinner.  In addition, the man controlled everything, so it seems condescending that instead of being angry, he applauds the fact that the beer is not spoiled.

1940s Wheaties

A white American soldier finds a box of Wheaties while traversing through a forest in this comic about World War II. This ad has racism overtones since all the soldiers are white.


An advert for the cereal branded it as the breakfast of champions. It was meant to tap into the patriotic mood at the time, but it was not very effective.

Tactics for scaring people

This is another vintage advertisement about the evils of morning breath, but this time the message (or threat) basically says that if a wife’s breath does not smell mint, another woman will steal her husband away. There seemed to be a real problem with this issue for men in the 1940s and 1950s.


A picture is worth a thousand words, so you don’t even need to read the copy to get the gist of what the ad is saying. The handsome fella shows a wandering eye, while his wife shows concern that she will be replaced soon. Talk about scaring their readers, fortunately such scare tactics are no longer employed.

Are you serious?

Yes, TV can be a good babysitter if your kid is sick and you are at work. But if your kid is a nerd like mine, they would really benefit from viewing the right channels and shows.


1955 Soda Ad

When this ad was created back in the 50s, little was known about how sodas affect health. Most companies were oblivious to the health effects of their products, which is why this ad ran.


There’s no doubt about it: high levels of caffeine, which can cause calcium deficiency, and the equivalent of 10 spoons of sugar. Healthy? Not at all.

Canned pork and beans from Stokely’s Van Camp; 1952

There was one major flaw in this ad; the kid’s expression. It looks sinister, as if he was sneaking up while you were sleeping and committing an evil act. It looks like a subtle threat telling you, “fail to buy Stokely’s Van Camp’s pork and beans and see what happens to you.”


I guess we could stretch it to say it’s a veiled threat, but the artist messed this drawing up with the cold expression on the boy’s face, though they probably didn’t intend for it to be chilling.

The Pyrex Cookware Company; 1947

Prior to the baby boomers, the wife who knew how to clean, cook, and comfort her husband was viewed as the pinnacle of female achievement.


There was no mention of love or other things that really make a marriage work in this advertisement. The housewife worked her magic in the confines of her kitchen, cooking to make both her children and husband happy. The ad came when the age of conformity was in full swing, where women were expected to be perfect housewives.

Ad for spark plugs from the 1940s

The Saturday Evening Post, an Indiana newspaper that had been in operation since 1821, published this advertisement for spark plugs. Despite all that experience, the paper published this advertisement. It depicts a black man shining shoes and the white horse asks him or commands him to clean its spark plugs.


The man in the advertisement is supposed to look like he is obedient enough to take orders from the animal. This drawing depicts the colored man as an inferior being, who gladly takes orders from the horse. In addition, the horse is white to show white supremacy over color. Historically, people of color were treated differently.

Teas made by Tetley in the 1800s

There was a lot of physical punishment in the 19th century. Parents followed the principle of ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ religiously during this era. This advertisement by Tetley’s Tea claimed that the tea was as good as an exceptional child who never gets beaten. As a child, this was a difficult time with all the beatings and child labor.


Children were often forced to work and often were treated horribly at their workplaces, suffering all types of abuse in many instances. The law that protects children from factory labor only came into force in 1938. There was a bitter taste to this ad for tea.

Different reasons make it famous

Kris Jenner and Bruce Jenner advertised a workout video back then, as Bruce was an amazing athlete. But today, this kind of advertisement would appear inappropriate.




This couple may have promoted fitness back in the day, but today they seem to stand for something quite different!

An ineffective slimming cream from 1909

It is to be expected that dietary gags became popular in the early 1900s because fat-shaming was terrible then, much more so than it is now. Being plump and voluptuous became distasteful. The new fashionable trend was to be slim, fragile, even sickly.


The M.S Borden Fatoff Cream was designed to help plus-size women shed fat so that they could attain the slim, snakelike shape so popular at the time. Mary Borden, the inventor of this cream, claimed that it would be effective and that users would not have to exercise or diet to use it. However, the Department of Agriculture discovered that the cream consisted of soap shavings and water. As a result of ingredients that couldn’t help burn fat, the product was destined to fail.

It’s Cool to Smoke; 1957

Several cultural icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Jimmy Dean helped engrain the perception that smoking was classy in the 1950s when smoking became a sign of being cool and glamorous.


This advertisement was riding on that trend, but in 1964, the US Surgeon General Luther Terry showed that smoking caused lung cancer. His fifteen-page report was a death knell to the esteem that came with smoking. The tobacco industry was left scrambling for new ways to promote their products. The smoking rate has steadily decreased since then, and reached its lowest level in 2015.

1950s Merito Rum; delicious

The Latino has often been stereotyped as ignorant with a thick accent. The image is usually of a sombrero-wearing Puerto Rican, Mexican, or South American.


With broken English, this advertisement blends all these stereotypes.

1998; Tribal Chief

With games such as Pokemon, Donkey Kong, and Legend of Zelda, Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy Color was a smash hit.


This advertisement is odd because it depicts a tribal chief holding a game boy, as well as colors like teal, berry, kiwi, grape, purple, and dandelion.

It’s time to shake weight; 2010

One of the most memorable TV ads is the Shake Weight commercial. The Shake Weight became a popular workout tool and was featured on shows like Saturday Night Live.


It’s a decent ad, but something about it feels off.

The Sega Genesis, 1990

“Mortal Kombat” and “Sonic” are legendary in the gaming world. It played a major role in igniting the console culture that still thrives today. So what is wrong with this advertisement?


There is something very suggestive about that picture, especially if you read the ad. Cheeky adolescent joke there. As funny as it may feel, it is quite distasteful, especially considering that most Sega users were those below the age of 18.

1972 Take-My-Lips-Kit

It was an ad from a catalog asking the reader to order a “take my lips kit.” The kit includes the materials to cast bronze molds of one’s lips.


This was aimed at lovers who wanted to create ‘lip’ gifts for their partners. Outlandish idea and advertisement, but might sound romantic to some.

Burden of the White Man; 1899

A condescending ad for Pears’ Soap. In it, a man is washing his hands, nothing wrong with that. What’s disturbing is what’s below, even by the particularly low standards of the time. Insinuating that black people are the burden of white men would be fine if the soap performed a civic duty by cleaning third-world countries.


As a powerful tool to lighten the dark corners of the world, the soap made no mistake who was the master and who was the slave.

The 1860s: Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup for Children

I don’t think the ad was that bad, but we’re concerned about the product being sold to unsuspecting customers. You see, cocaine, morphine, and other substances were commonplace in beverages and drugs during the 1800s. Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup flourished in an environment in which FDA approval stickers were not required on medications.


The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 mandated that manufacturers list their ingredients on labels. Morphine is not a substance any mother wants to give their children if they have toothaches.

The use of cocaine for toothache in 1885

There was a time when cocaine was advertised as a toothache medicine. Cocaine was a popular ingredient in the coca wine that evolved into Coca-Cola. It was widely used and perfectly legal for everyday use. Coca-Cola was the world’s most popular soda even a few decades back.


As the 19th century wound down, cocaine became a major ingredient in a number of pain relief tonics, including toothache drops.

I’m speechless

In the 1950s, advertising was dominated by men, so they didn’t know how to sell. They were great at bouncing ideas off each other, but that was it. An ad for the Kenwood Chef food processor.

Sexist ads from the past | monolith68 | Flickr

I’m amazed!

Even a woman can open it, so who are they selling this to? Back then, creative men weren’t even considerate that women opened food, bottles, and whatnot in the kitchen anyway, so who are they selling it to? 


You’re eating a what?!

In a world full of cute pony and unicorn cartoons, would little kids eat a pony? How was this ever a good thing? It even goes on to say “made from the goodness of ponies”.

Youre eating a pony! : vintageads

Taking things to the next level

I agree that in winter I’d be happy to use it even without hair. This seems like a private joke between friends, rather than an advertisement for a real product.


What’s Your Smell Like?

During the 1940s, men were allowed to smell bad. Did you know that? This old ad came out just as deodorant began to become an issue, but only women were expected to smell good.


Serving in the Navy

Surely this would never be accepted today, or even ten years ago. In the 1940s, the Navy was a magical experience. So how do you make men want to join? Tell them they could have been women and missed out.

Pin by Crystal Poe on History Nerd | Wwii posters, Joining the navy, Wwii  propaganda

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Written by Dustin Gandof

Dustin Gandof is a writer for BeGitty, a website about news and entertainment. He is interested in a lot of things including the production of music. In college, he studied at North Carolina State University.

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