How Classic Advertising Teaches us About America

A compilation of classic print ads at the Consumerist, titled “Top 10 Ironic Ads From History,” showcases how vastly different this country is today compared to just a couple of generations ago.

Mad Men has secured a healthy TV following due to its snappy dialogue and engaging characters. But most viewers are drawn to the way the show has preserved a specific period in American history, a period in which the American dream was overzealously sold by a growing ad industry. Today, many of these classic ads are collected in online museums, giving Americans a unique perspective into how this country has operated over the past five decades.


A compilation of classic print ads at the Consumerist, titled “Top 10 Ironic Ads From History,” showcases how vastly different this country is today compared to just a couple of generations ago. They include an ad featuring two babies smiling in a carriage wrapped in cellophane and another circa 1960 ad for Thalidomide, a “wonder drug” that turned out to cause birth defects. It is shocking to see how recklessly and under-regulated American life was during an apparent golden age.

Perhaps no site provides a better museum of classic ads than AdViews, a digital collection of thousands of historic ads acquired by the D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles ad agency and aired between the 1950s and 1980s. Hosted by Duke University Libraries, the online museum is a living, breathing look into how American life has evolved through the years. Featuring a series of advertising quizzes, the site’s ads are downloadable through iTunes and arranged by date and product, including Fruity Pebbles, Maxwell House, and Sara Lee. Classic TV Ads is another site featuring classic TV commercials, including an absolutely shocking section dedicated to classic tobacco advertising. Between these sites and the extensive collection of classic print advertising at AdClassix, this could be the defining prism through which America’s last 50 years are gauged. Don’t agree? How many commercial jingles can you sing verbatim off the top of your head?

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
popular

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less