With the advent of magazine advertising came a flood of weight-loss products aimed at women. It seems that not much has changed between the 19th century and now, huh? The ingredients in many of our modern-day diet pills are dubious at best and harmful at worse. With that being said, the options from over 100 years ago were way worse.
Not only were 19th-century advertisements blatantly body-shaming women to make them feel bad, but the products were complete shams and had some bad side effects. According to Livestrong, some of the early diet pills were based on thyroid extract, which sped up the metabolism. Sure, people could lose weight, but they also risked irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, and even death. Worth it? We think not.
A Weird Chilprufe Ad
This advertisement for Chilprufe undergarments is pretty straightforward. However, the way we market children’s undergarments has significantly changed since this ad came out in the 1950s. We would never in a million years see an ad that featured children in their undergarments, even if it was an illustration.
We get the idea behind this Chilprufe ad. This illustrated advertisement was probably published in a women’s magazine or somewhere else that a mom would see it and think of her kids. Nowadays, most of us would clock an ad like this as extremely creepy, but back then, it was largely viewed as practical and straightforward.
Atari gets Stevie Wonder to Advertise their Console
Stevie Wonder is one of the biggest names in the music industry. Despite his blindness, he was a fantastic singer, songwriter, producer, musician, and a multi-instrumentalist. As one of the most critically and commercially successful musicians, there is no doubt that Stevie was a prodigy.
Atari, a gaming console marketed for children and teenagers alike had once ridden the coattails of Stevie’s fame, making him the face of this advertisement that is quite concerning as it banks on Stevie’s disability. As with most things, this was likely discussed before it was published and Stevie had agreed to the terms. Still, Stevie is truly amazing for being able to make light of his disability.
A Nice Hot Cup of Bouillon
This vintage ad from 1907 is unique because it looks like a print of an actual photograph, not an illustration. It’s kind of hard to make out, but it shows a little girl preparing herself a drink with the line, “I am just going to have my OXO” underneath. Before you jump to conclusions, the OXO in this ad is not the same brand as the kitchenware company that makes those amazing Good Grips products.
Instead, this OXO refers to a turn-of-the-century brand that made liquid and solid beef extract. Basically, they made beef bouillon cubes. The crazy thing is, OXO cubes were advertised as a healthy meal for kids to help them grow big and strong. Broth has plenty of health benefits, but can you imagine drinking bouillon mixed with a cup of milk? Absolutely not.
Zippo Use to Openly Promote Smoking
We would never see an ad like this anywhere in the US nowadays. This 50s-era ad for Zippo lighters shows two people sharing a smoke, which is something that is heavily regulated and banned in advertising because of known health risks. However, before all the laws and regulations, brands could use smoking as an advertising point.
Although the Zippo brand isn’t directly selling cigarettes in this ad, it’s pretty obvious what they wanted people to use their lighters for. This vintage ad actually wouldn’t be too bad if it didn’t openly promote smoking. Surprisingly, it’s not overly sexist or racist in any obvious way, so at least there’s that.