vintage sexist offensive ads

A sexist vintage ad from the 1970s, promoting some fancy two-tone men’s shoes.

Advertising has become an integral part of our socio-economic lives and it’s carefully designed to speak to the hearts and minds of consumers. It taps into our psyche, hopes, dreams, goals, and fears.

In this article, we will flip through the pages of history and look at some of the offensive or misogynistic print ads, from brands that tried to sell their products by promoting male chauvinism, sexism, and breeding the feeling of insecurity among women.

Vintage ads are a reflection of the past that shows the values of that time period. Early print advertisements were a lot more blatant, some of them so downright offensive that is hard to believe they actually went live. Imagine what the reaction would be if any of these advertisements were put up today?

However, regarding the sexist messages, Mad Men-style ad men knew what they were doing and they understood that sex sells, and so does controversy. As long as the advertisements did their job and moved products, companies would keep pushing the limits as far as they could. Even back then, people complained. But a few strongly-worded letters sent via postal mail to the company in question could easily be ignored.

Even modern-day ads objectify women, but there’s no way companies could get away with what they just did a few decades away. In some ads, the men grope their wives, tread on them and blow smoke in their faces.

Major brands like Kellogg’s featured sexist slogans, like “The Harder A Wife Works, The Cuter She Looks.” The advert for Volkswagen boasts of the firm’s hard-wearing cars, beginning simply: “Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things”. Other companies promoted pseudoscience that we now know to be utter rubbish. 7-Up told moms to add the soda to their babies’ milk. Camel cigarettes were marketed as “the doctor’s favorite brand”.

vintage sexist offensive ads

This ad for pants depicted a woman as a tiger-skin rug, boasting: ‘After one look at his Mr Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her’.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Don’t worry darling, you didn’t burn the beer!”. A sexist vintage advert from Schlitz.

vintage sexist offensive ads

A creepy vintage Pitney Bowe Postage Meter. “Is it always illegal to kill a woman?”

vintage sexist offensive ads

“More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette”.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“So the harder a wife works, the cuter she looks!”. 1939.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“If your husband ever finds out you’re not ‘store-testing’ for fresher coffee…” starts this ad that ran in LIFE magazine back in August 1952.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere”.
By Tipalet in the 1960s.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Show her it’s a man’s world”. Van Heusen Man’s World ties: “For men only! … brand new man-talking, power-packed patterns that tell her it’s a man’s world… and make her so happy it is.” 1951.

vintage sexist offensive ads

There were even ads that promoted sugary drinks for toddlers, asking: ‘How soon is too soon? Not soon enough’.

vintage sexist offensive ads

Light up Mom! This ad claimed ‘you need never feel over-smoked’. Perhaps they hadn’t heard of lung cancer.

vintage sexist offensive ads

‘Men are better than women!’ This advert for sweaters said wives were ‘a bit of a drag’ on a mountain.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“It’s yours with this quick, fresh lift”.

vintage sexist offensive ads

Do you seek a woman who can completely take care of every aspect of your household cleaning? We’ll then its time to get the Addis Wedding Set.

vintage sexist offensive ads

Want to have some fun? How about some domestic violence before heading out with your buddies?

vintage sexist offensive ads

Not the best choice of lemons.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“There’s another woman waiting for every man”. “No wife wants her husband to carry the memory of her morning breath to work with him. The attractive women he meets during the day don’t have it.” 1950s.

vintage sexist offensive ads

An advert intended to shame men into joining the army.

vintage sexist offensive ads

The secret of successful marriages is that brides need to cook for their husbands right from the day of their wedding.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Presenting the Losers”. Female objectification at its best.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“The game is broomsticks”.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“A cigar brings out the caveman in you.There’s a man-size feeling of power in smoking a cigar.” 1959.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“You mean a woman can open it?” Alcoa Aluminum put out this gem of an ad back in 1953. Even a woman could open a glass bottle… “Easily — without a knife blade, a bottle opener, or even a husband! All it takes is a dainty grasp, and easy, two-finger twist — and the catsup is ready to pour.”

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Congratulations, dear, but exactly what does an assistant vice president do?” 1960s.

vintage sexist offensive ads

A creepy vintage ad: “Because innocence is sexier than you think”. 1975.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Want him to be more of a man? Try being more of a woman”. 1974.

vintage sexist offensive ads

As explained by the kind folks from Lux detergent back in the 1940s: “Dorothy, 25, lives at home. She has a job, yet she can’t get ahead. She dresses well, talks well, dances well — yet she is seldom asked out — and never a second time. She thinks she is misunderstood. She blames others when really her own carelessness is to blame.”

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Look – I’m a mother!”. 1940s.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Up off your knees, girls. Shinyl Vinyl, the no-wax floor, is here.” (About Congoleum flooring). 1970s.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“I’m Jo. Fly me.” Jo (and another stewardess named Cheryl) were part of a National Airlines ad that even sparked outrage at the time. 1970s.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Where there’s a man… there’s a Marlboro”. This vintage magazine advertisement from 1970 also included this absurd line: “The cigarette designed for men that women like.”

vintage sexist offensive ads

You won him – now you must keep him. 1935.

vintage sexist offensive ads

Advertisement for automatic transmission.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“This is a computer?”

vintage sexist offensive ads

Advertisement for STDs.

vintage sexist offensive ads

An ad for Drummond sweaters.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Should a gentleman offer a Tiparillo to a violinist?”

vintage sexist offensive ads

An ad from Hoover company.

vintage sexist offensive ads

Van Heusen shirts.

vintage sexist offensive ads

Hotpoint dishwashers: “Please…let your wife come into the living room!”.

vintage sexist offensive ads

“Does your husband look younger than you do?”

vintage sexist offensive ads

“4 out of 5 men want Oxfords…in the new Van Heusen styles”.

vintage sexist offensive ads

Canadian Patriotic Fund.

vintage sexist offensive ads

A cigarette pack dressed up as woman.

vintage sexist offensive ads

Acme, 1963: The most important quality in coffee is how much it will please your man.

vintage sexist offensive ads

Brown & Williamson, 1967: “The best ones are thin and rich.”

(Photo credit: Pickchur / National Archives / Library of Congress).