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Shocking and Offensive Ads from the Past That Would be Banned Today

In our modern society, advertising is an essential part of our everyday lives. Indeed, it’s carefully crafted to speak directly to our hearts and minds. It is a form of persuasive communication. The ultimate objective of advertising is to sell things persuasively and creatively.

The history of advertising is filled with misogynistic and offensive print advertisements from brands that promoted male chauvinism, sexism and creating an insecure feeling and a sense of insecurity among women. They reflect on our past. Early print advertisements were blatant, and some were so offensive that it was hard to believe they ever appeared. Advertisers understood that sex sells and controversy, so they did not go about sending out sexist messages. Companies pushed the limits as far as they could to sell their products and services. Modern ads objectify women, but it’s impossible that companies could get away with what they did a few decades ago. Several ads featured men groping their wives, treading on them, and blowing smoke into their faces in the past.

Several major brands have used sexist slogans, including Kellogg’s: “The harder a wife works, the cuter she looks.” Volkswagen’s advertising begins with, “Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things.” Some companies promoted pseudoscience that is now known as utter nonsense. Moms were told to add 7-Up to their babies’ milk. The marketing for Camel cigarettes stated that it was the “doctors favorite brand.”

Below are some sexiest and offensive ads that show how brands advertised their products in the past.

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

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

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#2 This ad for pants depicted a woman as a tiger-skin rug, boasting.

This ad for pants depicted a woman as a tiger-skin rug, boasting.

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#3 Don’t worry darling, you didn’t burn the beer!.

Don’t worry darling, you didn’t burn the beer!.

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#4 A creepy vintage Pitney Bowe Postage Meter.

A creepy vintage Pitney Bowe Postage Meter.

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#5 More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.

More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.

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#6 So the harder a wife works, the cuter she looks!. 1939.

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

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#7 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.

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.

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

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

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#9 Show her it’s a man’s world. Van Heusen Man’s World ties

Show her it’s a man’s world. Van Heusen Man’s World ties

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#10 How soon is too soon? Not soon enough

How soon is too soon? Not soon enough

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#11 Light up Mom! This ad claimed ‘you need never feel over-smoked’.

Light up Mom! This ad claimed ‘you need never feel over-smoked’.

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

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

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#13 It’s yours with this quick, fresh lift.

It’s yours with this quick, fresh lift.

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#14 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.

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.

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

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

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#16

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#17 There’s another woman waiting for every man.

There’s another woman waiting for every man.

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#18 An advert intended to shame men into joining the army.

An advert intended to shame men into joining the army.

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

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

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#20 Presenting the Losers

Presenting the Losers

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#21 The game is broomsticks

The game is broomsticks

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

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

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#23 Alcoa Aluminum put out this gem of an ad back in 1953.

Alcoa Aluminum put out this gem of an ad back in 1953.

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#24 Congratulations, dear, but exactly what does an assistant vice president do.

Congratulations, dear, but exactly what does an assistant vice president do.

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#25 Because innocence is sexier than you think, 1975

Because innocence is sexier than you think, 1975

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#26 Want him to be more of a man? Try being more of a woman, 1974

Want him to be more of a man? Try being more of a woman, 1974

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#27 As explained by the kind folks from Lux detergent back in the 1940s

As explained by the kind folks from Lux detergent back in the 1940s

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#28 Look – I’m a mother!. 1940s.

Look – I’m a mother!. 1940s.

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

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

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#30 I’m Jo. Fly me

I’m Jo. Fly me

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#31 Where there’s a man… there’s a Marlboro.

Where there’s a man… there’s a Marlboro.

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

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

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#33 Advertisement for automatic transmission.

Advertisement for automatic transmission.

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#34 This is a computer?

This is a computer?

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#35 Advertisement for STDs.

Advertisement for STDs.

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#36 An ad for Drummond sweaters.

An ad for Drummond sweaters.

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#37 Should a gentleman offer a Tiparillo to a violinist?

Should a gentleman offer a Tiparillo to a violinist?

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#38 An ad from Hoover company.

An ad from Hoover company.

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#39 Van Heusen shirts.

Van Heusen shirts.

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

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

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#41 Does your husband look younger than you do?

Does your husband look younger than you do?

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#42 4 out of 5 men want Oxfords…in the new Van Heusen styles.

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

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#43 Canadian Patriotic Fund.

Canadian Patriotic Fund.

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#44 A cigarette pack dressed up as woman.

A cigarette pack dressed up as woman.

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

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

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#46 Brown & Williamson, 1967.

Brown & Williamson, 1967.

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Written by Benjamin Grayson

Former Bouquet seller now making a go with blogging and graphic designing. I love creating & composing history articles and lists.

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