Thursday, February 5, 2015

Advertisements - Windows Into the Past

Advertisements reflect the culture of the times in which we live. In this case we are looking at past representations of American life. Take this ad for contraception. Undoubtedly from the World War Two era this ad places all of the responsibility for disease upon the woman. Still, she is kind of pretty.... I wonder if this ad was very effective at the "moment of truth." They say that "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush." I doubt it.

Here's an interesting ad promoting the "bulking up" of America. In the days after World War Two had ended and rationing came to a halt, we were apparently a nation hungering for the things we had forsaken during the war. Still, I never recall my family eating lard after dinner. We usually had chocolate cake from Ebinger's, a local bakery that specialized in disguising lard as cakes. Contrasted with today's trend vilifying any weight gain at all, I find that I am hungering for a big slice of that nicely disguised lard cake.

Ads can be funny when viewed from the distance of many decades. Things change rapidly in the world of health and food sciences. You can't ignore the varying effects which some products have upon different people. Take this next advertisement for tobacco.

Whenever I went to see our family Physician I received confirmation of this ad. Dr. Frieri smoked like a chimney - even while eating his dinner simultaneously. He vehemently advised my Dad to quit smoking. My Dad did and gained 50 pounds and was dead at 71. The good Doctor, by comparison, continued to smoke until the end of his life. He died in his sleep at age 87. As I said, different things affect different people in different ways. Besides, I always thought the M&M's did my Dad more harm than the cigarettes. After all, Dr. Frieri never ate M&M's. He must have been wise to the lard thing.

Now here's a brilliant ad for marital bliss. The ad is for women and advises them to pour Lysol into their vagina's as a way to please their spouses and engender good female hygiene. Now I don't know about you but I can't stand the smell of cleaning products in general, let alone during intimate moments.

And a quick look at the label tells you this product is "Hazardous to Humans and Domestic Animals." Really-read the label. Besides which, I cannot even imagine me having this conversation with my wife, Sue, who provided me with these ads. I would rather drink the Lysol first. It would be a quicker demise.

Finally, a sensible ad we can all live with. After watching an Uncle of mine almost chop his hand off trying to open a beer can with a hatchet, this innovation was a relief to every member of our family back in the late 1950's. The Uncle in question went on to lead a long and productive life, eventually extolling the virtues of the "pop top" can in his later years.

Old advertisements are like works of art. They open windows into the past and offer reflection upon where we stand today. Looking at some of these ads makes me think "We've come a long way baby!"

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