Vintage Ads: The Confusing, the Sexist and the Batshit Insane

Advertisers just can't seem to get it right these days. They end up either objectifying women to the extent of using sex to sell products that have no correlation to 'sexiness', or they try to use the 'empowering women' angle but just end up coming off as condescending while still pandering to the same ideals of beauty as their use-sex-to-sell-everything counterparts.

Pictured: how your average woman eats a burger.. Apparently

To be fair though, modern advertising is at least trying to evolve so as to not piss off half the population of the planet. Vintage ads on the other hand, well those were just a whole other level of crazy. Are they insane caricatures of a alternative reality where everyone is manically happy? Sure. Are they sexist? Most definitely. Do they make sense? Not always. But none of this is news, it's something we all know and have come to expect from the advertising companies of yesteryears. The aspect of these ads that gets little or no attention though is how confused the makers of those ads seem to be! Say what you will about modern advertisers but at least they stick to their stereotype instead of jumping all over the map.
Case in point: What's the most pervasive beauty ideal for women? Being as skinny as possible of course! A few decades ago however, if you were skinny you might as well have leprosy as far as making people recoil in disgust was concerned.
sexist ad

Ok so maybe they weren't exactly subtle but at least there's no ambiguity, right? People back then preferred non-skinny women, so being a little chubby shouldn't be an issue righ-

sexist ad

Ok then.

Confused much?

It's important to note though that even though they might be confusing and insane, vintage ads were never confused about the one thing that held true for almost all of them: when in doubt, blame women.

In the world of vintage advertising everything was the fault of the womenfolk, and I mean EVERYTHING.

Your husband in a bad mood? It's probably due to your cooking skills

Vintage ads sexist

Or possibly because you didn't 'store-test' the coffee (really vintage ads?)

Vintage ad sexist
Serves you right lady!

Your husband cheating on you? Well it's your own fault for letting yourself get old!

Vintage ad sexist

I mean have you seen the new mistress's pretty hands? You just can't compare with your ugly 'dish-pan' hands

Sexist vintage ad

I mean honestly woman, it's like you want to lose your man! What's next? You going to let the drains clog up?

Sexist vintage ads

Or worse, catch a cold??

Sexist ad

Ok then.

So basically, in the world of vintage advertising, husbands got pissed off, cheated or stopped loving you for many different reasons but those reasons were always your own fault. It's a miracle any women actually survived back then without doing a stint in an insane asylum, what with all the stress-induced nervous breakdowns they probably gave themselves fretting that their husbands would leave them every time they caught a little cold.

Life for a housewife back then must have been quite… Interesting, no?



What's your take on women in advertising? Do you think advertisements are evolving or are they just getting more subtle with their sexism?



14 thoughts on “Vintage Ads: The Confusing, the Sexist and the Batshit Insane

  1. OMG… I can’t stand the hamburger ad you have at the beginning. (Note to self: never eat there. Self: OK.) Thanks for calling them out on their blatant sexism.

    Vintage ads are soooo fun!


    1. If you really want to see something see if you can find the actual ad on YouTube. It was a Burger King ad I think but was banned soon after it came out (for obvious reasons). Advertising companies are sometimes just insane in how they try to use sex to sell products 😣
      Vintage ads on the other hand are just funny in their insanity 😝


  2. Advertising is at best mildly entertaining, at worst nauseating. If only people could think for themselves . . . Someone should produce an ad about that. I suppose it is ultimately necessary, it shows us how far we have come, how low we will sink, and ultimately tells us what we want and need so we don’t have to worry about it.

    So much cynicism in me this morning, I’ve not had enough coffee yet. Can you imagine the uproar if these ads were published today? Oh, the insanity that would ensue!


    1. Ads are a necessary part of our consumer culture and to be fair, some are quite good. Vintage ads on the other hand, those would cause quite the uproar if they got published today. The advertisers would probably get crucified 😝
      Ps: when making your coffee today, don’t forget the cup! Just a friendly reminder 😝 hehehe

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! Thank you kindly for the reminder :o)

        I have many of these ads on my Pinterest boards, the world has changed changed so much . . . Honestly, I do love advertising, I tossed around the idea of making a career out of it for a spell, some of it is just so . . . Well, there’s the Geico camel, that humped oddity reminding me of midweek made me feel slightly violent after a while. It happens.


    1. Hahaha! Perfect reaction 😝 Don’t you especially love the one where the disapproving headmistress-y woman tells you it’s your fault your husband doesn’t love because you ‘let yourself get middle-aged skin’?? Wow


  3. Oh these ads are simply terrible–and hilarious!! It is crazy how acceptable they used to be! Even with all the subtle sexist advertisement today I honestly prefer it to living in that day. 🙂


    1. I’ll second you on that! Can you imagine how stressful bring a woman must have been back then if this is what society was telling you? They seem like caricatures till you realise they are serious ads


    1. You should see the entire burger ad: this is just a still from the banned tv commercial. We have come a long way it’s true, but the inherent sexism still remains 😣
      Thank you for visiting my blog! I’m glad you enjoyed my post 🙂


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