An advertisement that even teeters on being offensive can now destroy a brand in the wake of a social media backlash. However, that was not always the case. While we may still have a long way to go when it comes to social issues in the media, revisiting vintage advertisements can at least show you how far we’ve managed to come.
It should come as no surprise that the echo chamber once behind these campaigns had tone deaf results. Sexist and racist advertisements were no strangers to newspapers and billboards back in the day, and it’s not just disheartening that they caused no reaction, but more so that they actually worked. Here are 25 absurdly offensive vintage advertisements that would never fly today.
1. This advertisement for Weyenberg Massagic shoes appeared in Playboy magazine in December 1974 in the “no comment” section. The blatant sexism featured in the campaign shows a nude woman lying on the floor admiring a men’s shoe with the slogan: “Keep her where she belongs…” While the caption is somewhat confusing, the misogyny of the era is clear as it seems to insinuate that the only place for a woman is at a man’s feet.
2. Soft drink brand 7-Up initially ran this advertisement in Ladies Home Journal back in early 1955. The image features a woman feeding her infant a bottle of soda while boasting, “7-Up is so pure, so wholesome, you can even give it to babies and feel good about it.” Now that multiple studies have proven how problematic sugary drinks can be for children, this advertisement truly seems ludicrous that it was ever run.