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9 Shocking Advertisements From The Past

Lifestyle January 15, 2018 By Hugo

We live in a world where everything is moderated. Our television programmes must adhere to strict moral guidelines, and the films we watch have probably undergone numerous assessments from rating agencies. 

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Even our advertisements are limited to where their creative scope can take them. But liberalism within the creative industries isn't always a good thing. Instead, it can yield a plethora of ill-judged works. Just take these advertisements as an example. Somehow, each managed to bypass the regulatory services and enter the public domain and thus garnering attention for all the wrong reasons.That said, some of these advertisements were created in a different era, which makes their existence that little less surprising.

Here are 9 such examples.

1. Nivea

When the global cosmetics brand, Nivea, released an advertisement depicting a clean-shaven black male ridding himself of what appeared to suggest was his more scruffy alter ego, many rightly took umbrage.

YoutTube/ Top 10s

After all, suggesting that a whole race is unkempt will only take you so far before controversy steps in....

2. Lung Cancer Alliance

At first glance, you'll be forgiven for thinking that this unusual poster is promoting the genocide of all bearded, skinny jean wearing New Yorkers. In other words- hipsters. But that was not the attention from the earnest, yet naive campaign that the Lung Cancer Alliance thought up.

YouTube/Laughlin Constable

Rather, by promoting eye-catching text- which included other posters that read, "Crazy Old Aunts Deserve To Die"- they thought they could air the perfect analogy that no one deserves to die, even if you're a smoker with lung cancer. But it appeared the message wasn't well received (or understood) and led many hipsters (and crazy old aunts) to complain. 

3. Tipalet

Taking you back in time, the act of smoking circa 1970 was seen as more of a recreational activity/ way of life than a danger.

YouTube/ Perfect Life

And with the glamorous connotations that came with it, mainly thanks to an array of Hollywood stars often filmed smoking in the many cool restaurants and bars, social attitudes towards the drug were almost that of lust rather than contempt, as this dated advertisement shows.

4. An unknown shoe company insinuated that all women were slaves to material objects

We all love a bit of retail therapy, but it appears attitudes back then suggested that women loved clothes more than anything else.

In the ill-tasted advert, which was in keeping with the beliefs at the time, many thought wives could be tamed so long as they had beautiful items.

5. Mornidine

It's becoming a common theme in this article: sexist advertisements. But such misogyny was the norm in America and indeed many other parts of the world during the mid 20th century. Another example was the infamous Mornidine advert.

Describing the positive effects the drug has in helping pregnant women beat morning sickness, the highly offensive slogan read, 'Now She Can Cook Breakfast Again.'

6.  Lloyd Manufacturing Co

As you may or may not be aware, cocaine is now a class A drug. But it wasn't always.

YouTube/ Perfect Life

In fact, while once being a key ingredient in the early coca-cola ingredients, the drug was also used to cure dental problems, as illustrated in this advertisement from the pharmaceutical company, Llyod Manufacturing Co.

7. Motorola

Before we became a nation addicted to on-demand television and 24-hour news services, television was seen as more than just a medium of entertainment. It revolutionised media, and many companies were keen to cash in on the new device.

YouTube/ Perfect Life

For instance, Motorola, now more associated with their mobile devices, thought it best to promote their visual products by stating that, "television benefits your children."

8. Total

Aren't you glad you're living in the 21st century? In yet another sexist advert from the past, one cereal company decided to promote its vitamin-rich cereal by pointing out that not only is it good for a woman's physical health, but it will also keep their weight down due to the increased energy levels that come via its consumption.  

"Keep up with the house while you keep down your weight." the slogan read. 

9. An American catalogue advertises handguns as Christmas gifts for the "whole family"

The National Rifle Association may still be one of the most powerful lobbying groups in America, but at least there are checks in place to prevent certain people from purchasing one of these killing machines.

YouTube/ Perfect Life

But in the early to mid-1900s, owning a gun was simple. You browsed through a catalogue, ordered one and a week or so later; they'd mail you it in the post. Yes, really.


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