Advertising has been around for almost as long as we have. In ancient China, it was oral and people played bamboo flutes to sell candy. Political campaign displays and commercial messages have been found in the ruins of Pompeii. From those early origins to the commercials we see today, advertising has evolved and changed tremendously over the years. Many of us have favorite commercials that make us laugh, or tug at our heartstrings. Some of them are a little controversial (See Go Daddy’s super bowl commercial that was pulled due to bad press) Some commercials or ads that were considered acceptable in the past, would definitely not be acceptable by today’s standards. As you look through some of these, you might be surprised that they were ever appropriate at all.
10. Cocaine is The Cure
Now this one is probably one of the older ones on this list. With cherubic happy children in the picture, you know this was advertised for all ages. In defense, at this time, cocaine was not only legal, but also used in many different remedies for pain. According to livescience.com household brands such as Coca-Cola once contained cocaine. Needless to say, there isn’t any way one would be able to legally advertise this today.
9. Cigarettes Used to Cure Asthma
Obviously, Cigarettes are definitely not recommended for any of these ailments, and in fact, they would only add to them. As these days doctors will advise patients with asthma to avoid any and all smoke as much as possible. These cigarettes however weren’t made with tobacco, but rather with herbs that seemed to ease the symptoms of asthma. They weren’t without their side effects, however and were eventually removed from the market.
8. Get Infants to Drink Soda
It is hard to believe that we once actually advocated for young children to be given high sugar, carbonated soda as is pictured above, but, it was a different time. A less informed time, perhaps a more gullible time, even. Today, people aware but we should really not be drinking sodas, then even babies were told to drink up! The tot in the picture can’t be more than a year old. This ad would be totally unacceptable in this day and age.
7. You Mean a Woman Can Too?
This lovely advertisement was for a new lid. In addition to being horribly sexist, it also implies that a woman was just too darn inferior to open up these jars prior to the addition of this new twist lid. If any advertiser tried to pass this one off today, women’s groups would be in arms. Thankfully, we’ve evolved from that era; so of course, this is one ad that would certainly not fit in these days.
6. Bad for Women and Animals
How lovely, a woman’s head attached to a fur rug, under a man’s foot, like a hunting prize. In this ad for slacks, the woman was apparently so impressed with his choice of pants wear, she was ‘ready to have him walk all over her’. It is hard to point out the worst part of this ad, as there are quite a few awful decisions here. I’m sure it’s safe to say, any advertiser attempting this type of pitch would be better to just ‘walk away’.
5. Need a Holiday Gift Idea?
Who would have thought to tie in the holidays with guns? We get the idea of promotion around the time when people purchase the most, however to whom did this idea strike as genius? In today’s market, this ad might go over well in certain areas, not so much in others. In any case, it’s no longer considered acceptable to advertise guns in this manner any longer.
4. Television Helps School Grades
Imagine if, growing up, you could tell your parents “But, if you get me a TV, it will help me improve my grades” and be backed up. Well, the children of this era were able to say that. Of course, this was in the halcyon days of television, when it was very new and not everybody had one. Yet another example of an ad that wouldn’t be appropriate for today’s audience, even though kids still try to convince their parents that watching TV only helps raise intelligence.
3. Smoking is Healthy
Here’s another ad that definitely dates itself. No doctor worth his salt would advertise smoking cigarettes. In fact, now the recommendation is that you quit altogether. In other ads around this time you can see images of women smoking in doctors rooms while pregnant. If you decided to do that today you would definitely receive more than just a scolding. You can almost see how people honestly believed that smoking wasn’t unhealthy for you with ads like this.
2. Suicide and Shampoo
This one is rather disturbing. With suicide front and foremost in the news, it seems rather ghastly that there was a time when they would joke about it to sell shampoo, but there it is. Yes we said shampoo. Today, most people are just curious as to who thought this would be a great ad to provoke people to buy shampoo. With sensibilities being what they are today, there would be no way this ad would be accepted these days.
1. Underage and Inappropriate
This last entry on our list is the most recent advertisement that just creeps everyone out that views it now. It was for Love’s Baby Soft and was in most of the teen and pre-teen magazines at the time, such as Tiger Beat, and Seventeen. It was an ad that received national coverage in the early eighties, but as you can plainly see, is totally inappropriate in the way it sexualizes a very young girl. Not only would this ad be totally taboo for today’s consumer, but it might also be considered illegal as well.