The Campy Swine Flu Ads that Saved America

Hamilton Nolan · 04/27/09 01:26PM

Basic message: Anything sign of happiness in your attitude will cause you to die, followed by your loved ones.
But hey, I like the pep!

Six Million Ways to Die

Hamilton Nolan · 04/25/09 11:00AM

This, reportedly from a "European trade publication circa 1998," may be the single most unintentionally terrible ad ever produced. At least in the last 11 28 years. Click to enlarge. [via Fishbowl LA]

Classic GM Ads: When Times Were Not So Terrible

Hamilton Nolan · 11/29/08 12:00PM

Poor General Motors Corp may not be around forever if certain auto dealers on a bus ride cannot persuade the federal government to give the failing company $25 billion. Sad! Remember when GM cars ruled the roads, America ruled the world, and men were men? Those were the days. We've collected a gallery of ten classic GM ads from the good old days of the 1930s, to remind you of what once was, and what shall never be again. Weep for your autos:

The Best Of Cigarette Pseudoscience

Hamilton Nolan · 10/07/08 11:08AM

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a class action case accusing the tobacco industry of fraud for its marketing campaign aimed at convincing the public that "light" cigarettes are safer. This just shows you how far we've come: 50 years ago, we would have had to call the Supreme Court to determine which brand has the smoothest flavor for your T-Zone"! Coincidentally, the New York Public Library is now holding a huge exhibition of hi-larious old cigarette ads. With doctors! Babies! Blackface! And other outrages! In honor of our nation's justice system, the 15 best are below:

Democrats Have Lost The Nuclear Ad Race

Hamilton Nolan · 09/12/08 02:44PM

Simplicity—which often involves leaving things unsaid—is a rare tactic in advertising today. We want every bell and whistle listed and explained for us completely and quickly so we can get back to playing Wii! Political ads are no exception. Here's Barack Obama's newest ad attacking McCain; it takes the trouble to spell out, on screen, the same things the announcer is saying, because Americans have lost our ability for inference along with our attention spans. It lacks three crucial things that the classic 1964 LBJ ad, titled "Merely Another Weapon" (after the jump) has: One clear message; a trust that viewers will understand that message themselves; and awesome atom bomb blasts: Click to view [LBJ ad via The Living Room Candidate]

"Men grow neglectful when wives grow careless"

Hamilton Nolan · 09/11/08 03:15PM

There's an episode of Mad Men (I told you I must relentlessly mine this show to catch up with every other ad writer) in which Sterling Cooper has to come up with an ad campaign for a stimulating "weight loss" machine that actually owes its popularity with women to the fact that it's an undercover vibrator. Cue the euphemisms: "Rejuvenator," "youthful glow," etc. Today, of course, euphemism is dead. The agency would sell the product with "Turn it on and cum!" So it makes us wistful to look back on how they sold embarrassing things in the good old days. (With sexism!). After the jump, classic ads that gently persuaded your grandparents to choose the right brand when they were feeling... not so fresh:

Bizarre Ad People Need Drugs

Hamilton Nolan · 09/09/08 01:06PM

The olden days were full of free-flowing psychoactive drugs, grotesque torture machines for the advancement of human beauty, and creepy children intent on eating anything in their path, judging by the advertising way back when. From a longer list at Weirdomatic, we give you seven classic ads to make you glad you live in our modern age, when Ritalin has replace Nembutal as our drug of choice for small children:

Don't Say America Can't Build A Television

Hamilton Nolan · 08/11/08 04:13PM

This, my friends, is what a 1978 widescreen television should look like. GE's Widescreen 1000 projection TV featured "the 'chairside convenience' of random access remote control," and "computer-like circuitry" to keep the color just right. Flat screens are for Communists. Click to enlarge. [Retro Thing via Coudal]

Classic Booze Ads: "You Know Good Bourbon, Dick."

Hamilton Nolan · 07/30/08 03:39PM

Booze: it really sells itself. But you can always buy more booze, and liquor companies have been honing their sales pitches for decades. Below, seven ads for-bluntly-cheap rotgut booze, from the 1940s and 50s. Maybe this stuff was classy way back then? Gay undertones, exotic racism, sexism, and international flair are all in there! I think you'll prefer this brand of rotgut to booze costing "up to $1.00 more," assuming you're a white man!

Just How Racist Was Aunt Jemima?

Hamilton Nolan · 06/25/08 03:47PM

If you go to the "Our History" section of the Aunt Jemima website, it gives a rather whitewashed rundown of key moment's in the company's long life. It was founded in 1889, and 100 years later, "the image of Aunt Jemima was updated by removing her headband and giving her pearl earrings and a lace collar." But what about the image of Aunt Jemima, say, six or seven decades ago? Did she still "stand for warmth, nourishment and trust"? Well kind of, but it was more of a nourishment and trust of racism. Embrace your past, Quaker Oat Company! We dug through the archives for some classic Aunt Jemima ads from the 1940s, and it's true what they say: "Happifyin' Aunt Jemima Pancakes Sho' Sets Folks Singin'!" About racism!:

Five Ways Camel Cigarettes Are Good For You

Hamilton Nolan · 06/19/08 01:20PM

Are you aware that Camels are made from finer, more expensive tobaccos than any other brand? And that they stimulate digestion, taste great, and will make you a better swimmer? Failing to teach your kids to smoke Camels is virtually child abuse! All true, according to the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. We've compiled five of the most outrageous claims from classic Camel ads of the 1930s-50s, from the peerless archive at the Gallery of Graphic Design. Read them and be educated. Do it for your "T-Zone!"

Back When America Was Goofier

Hamilton Nolan · 05/02/08 02:53PM

Pop culture is always a step behind the real cutting-edge culture that defines what's cool in the current zeitgeist. And mass media advertising, with its drive for universal appeal, is generally made from an even weaker brew than pop culture. What that means for us is that these ads from the 1950s and 60s—which lack not only today's sense of political correctness, but also their own era's sense of cool—are an entertaining lens through which to view the age of beatniks and free love. Groove your way to the hippie party with a 1969 stereo in your new General Motors automobile! Six classic examples [via Flickr/ Coudal], after the jump.

The Pinnacle Of Sitcom Rap

Hamilton Nolan · 04/18/08 02:44PM

From a long list of the most excruciating old school commercials that painfully integrated rapping comes this winner: The "Perfect Strangers" and "Head of the Class" hip hop promotional collaboration dance and musical extravaganza. I always thought Balki would make a promising rap star, and Larry, of course, is a great hype man. But spectacles like this surely prompted the sitcom stars of today to specifically write "No rapping promo appearances" language into their contracts. So many lost opportunities: