Home / POP CULTURE / Are You Kidding Me?! Shocking Ad Posters Of The 1950s & 1960s Show Sexist And Racist Campaigns

Are You Kidding Me?! Shocking Ad Posters Of The 1950s & 1960s Show Sexist And Racist Campaigns

Women's liberation didn't cut much ice in Madison Avenue. Girls were seen as weak and inferior - and would simperingly fall for anyone wearing Weyenberg shoes It’s amazing to discover that once upon a time in the Western world, women were looked down upon and treated as inferior to men.

This was always depicted in most of the advertisements and promotions during the booming 1950s and 1960s post-war era. America was awash with consumer goods and a creative and ruthless team of advertising executives, under agency boss Don Draper, charged with selling them to a newly wealthy US public.

Take the advert above for example. Women’s liberation didn’t cut much ice in Madison Avenue. Girls were seen as weak and inferior – and would simperingly fall for anyone wearing Weyenberg shoes

Fast forward to the present day and look how things have evolved. This means that there’s indeed hope that one day, the African continent would be totally revolutionized to give women the respect that they truly deserve.

These adverts were compiled by Charles Saatchi in his new book “Beyond Belief: Racist, Sexist, Crude And Dishonest: The Golden Age Of Madison Avenue” and is published by Booth-Clibborn Editions.

Saatchi wrote:

“I became intrigued after discovering real-life adverts from the era that were in bewilderingly poor taste. So I set myself the grimly amusing task of collecting as many examples of them as possible.

They show that marketing men – and they were mostly men – in the middle of the last century had few qualms about creating brutally sexist and racist adverts that would never see the light of day today and which most of us now would find offensive to the point of callousness.

But back then, the advertising men would brush off any criticism of being misogynistic, wryly explaining that misogynists are men who don’t hate women as much as women hate each other. 

The ad men pushed valium as a way to pacify women, to help them ‘behave as a dutiful mother and wife, silent and without revolt’

And while slavery had long been abolished and civil-rights campaigners were pricking the public consciousness, deeply racist advertising was considered acceptable in America’s boardrooms and their advertising agencies, as long as it was deemed to be light-hearted and folksy.

Looking at the ads today, nothing about them could be described as fondly jocular. Quite the reverse.

Although many of the advertisements I’ve selected are grotesque and alarming, they present an important portrait of American society of the Mad Men era and, thankfully, demonstrate that we have taken many steps forward.”

A man walks all over a woman in this advert for men’s trousers. The ad man’s message seems to be that women could be tamed by brute force, animal magnetism – and a pair of synthetic-fibre slacks

A housewife is amazed she can open a ketchup bottle all by herself. The ad conveniently ignores that a few years before, women made tanks and bombs for the war effort

The not-so-subliminal message is that a man should be in control and should maintain his dominance over his wife – even when it comes to which coffee she buys – through physical intimidation

The 1960s campaign for Tipalet cigarettes shows a wide-eyed beauty in low-cut top and open mouth. The cigarette acts as an extension of the man’s virility, emphasising women as passive sexual objects manipulated by men

Small-waisted, beautifully dressed, a welcome-home smile – and delighted to be given a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. Women had to be perfect housewives and mothers – and stay attractive enough to keep their man

Bleach and soap firms ‘amusingly’ claimed their products could whiten dark skin. This paint advert illustrated how well white gloss covered black

The ad men pushed valium as a way to pacify women, to help them ‘behave as a dutiful mother and wife, silent and without revolt’

Advertising campaigns promoted asbestos as an indestructible ‘magic mineral’. We now know that it is a potent carcinogen

Threatened by the invention of artificial sweeteners, the sugar industry promoted sugar as an energising product that reduced fatigue and curbed appetiteThreatened by the invention of artificial sweeteners, the sugar industry promoted sugar as an energising product that reduced fatigue and curbed appetite
Radioactivity was portrayed as modern and exciting in the 1950s, with ads hailing products such as radioactive toothpaste and an X-ray machine to size children’s feet

Cocaine was marketed openly as an anaesthetic after its painkilling benefits were discovered in the 1900s. It was only once it had become widely available in pharmacies that its psychoactive properties became apparentCocaine was marketed openly as an anaesthetic after its painkilling benefits were discovered in the 1900s. It was only once it had become widely available in pharmacies that its psychoactive properties became apparent

© Charles Saatchi, 2015

Source: DailyMail UK

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About Peace

Peace is a wife and mother who reports and analyses global trends from the perspective of a Deeva; in the hope of invoking a thought process that will lead to a positive change.

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