These Ads From The Past Would Definitely Be Banned Today


Dormeyer Christmas Ad For Wives


Just one look at this ad by Dormeyer and you will notice the sexism that existed back then. The items mentioned in the ad are not at all romantic and should not be considered as ideal Christmas presents for wives. They do not speak about love, instead they just say that the woman’s place is in the kitchen.

The ad shows how the gender roles were defined in a marriage and the wives were considered to be feeble-minded, emotional, and manipulative. The word ‘wives’ at the top was to grab the attention of women and the instructions were then laid out for them as if they were mere children who needed to follow them thoroughly. It also guaranteed that the husbands would buy the domestic products for their wives and that there was no thought involved in the gift.

Sadly, the atrocity does not end there. The husbands were instructed to go buy the items before their wives started to cry. This suggested that the husbands were the sole breadwinners and that the wives were nothing but people who worked in the kitchen.

Van Heusen’s World Of Men

This ad clearly reeks of male dominance. The woman is shown as a submissive slave who is on her knees presenting breakfast to her husband in bed. On the other hand, the man is shown to be resting with his hands behind his head as if he is king of the world. Judging by the look of the ad, we are sure that the husband would not invite the wife to join him for breakfast but rather would have her at his service for more food if required.

Another part of the ad that really ticks us off is that the ties are shown to be only for men. Van Heusen conveyed that it is a world of men and that the ties are a power tool of the attire that makes the women happy. They want to say that the woman will only be happy because the men are dominating the earning potentials of the society.

These people should have been told that women can also wear ties and they wear them more fashionably than men at times. Also, no woman of today would ever be happy knowing that it is a man’s world. This ad, if it ran today, would only serve ties that would be used to strangle the men who designed it.

“So the harder a wife works, the cuter she looks!” – Kellogg’s Pep

This is one of the most chauvinist ads that we have ever come across. Instead of promoting the vitamin-enriched cereal that keeps the woman happy and vibrant after a long busy day at home while her husband looks exhausted when he arrives from his nine-to-five job, the ad highlights that the woman looks so good only because she is taking care of the household work.

This ad is from 1932 and we have to wonder what Kellogg’s was thinking back then. Complete with an apron, a feather duster, and a big smile on her face, the ad boosts the idea that women are happiest when they’re dusting, sweeping, preparing meals, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and caring for the children. And they’re happy to do all these while wearing high-heeled pumps.

The ad suggests that a bowl of whole-wheat breakfast cereal in the morning is the only thing required to turn your wife into a happy and cheerful cleaning machine that will take care of the house while the husband tires himself out just by working a few hours in the office.

“The Chef does everything but cook—that’s what wives are for!” – Kenwood Chef

This is yet another ad that is degrading to women, saying they are only good for cooking food. This ad suggests that the primary job of the woman is to stay at home and cook for her husband and children. In the 1960s and even the 70s, a woman’s primary occupation as a housewife involved managing the household, doing the housework, and caring for her family.

Even if the woman was employed as a clerk in an office, she was expected to quit her job and rely on her husband as the sole breadwinner once she got married. The husband is being appreciated in this ad for buying his wife an appliance to help her cook. The proud man of the house anticipates better food since he was thoughtful enough to buy a mixer that whisks eggs and makes dough. But it doesn’t fry bacon and eggs or grill steaks. It doesn’t wash the dishes or do the laundry. It doesn’t clean the house or sweep the floor.

It also says that even if the man is a chef, it would be the duty of his wife to cook for him since he is already cooking for other people for his job. It is quite degrading to consider that women will follow the instructions of the chef and then continue to cook on her own.

“Learn to Train Your Wife in 5 easy lessons…” – The Committee for a Better America


This was an ad for a free booklet by the Committee for a Better America. The booklet would teach the men to train their wives just like they would teach a loyal and obedient dog to greet them when they get home, fetch their slippers, and stay quiet beside them or at their feet. Also, the ad guarantees satisfaction for the men as if all woman were conditioned to follow a set of instructions that are written in this booklet.

Among the promised results of these lessons is the woman’s ability to attentively respond to verbal cues like the snapping of fingers. This particular gesture is extremely offensive because it tells the man he can treat his wife like he would any attendant at a disreputable dive bar. The wife is likewise expected to massage her husband’s feet, bring him ice-cold beer, and grant all his requests.

Hopefully, the Committee for a Better America realized how offensive and backward this ad is because the country has become a better place since advancements toward gender equality were made.

Over the past few decades, humanity has evolved quite a lot. Just over a century ago, man believed the atom to be the smallest part of matter but today, we know all about the subatomic particles that make up the atoms as well. Over 50 years ago, women did not have the same rights as they do now and parenting was very different a couple of decades ago. As humans have evolved and improved in these matters, so has our advertising.

There were a lot of ads in the past that were discriminative, false, insensitive, politically incorrect, and downright offensive. Even so, these ads ran on television, radio, on flyers, and on billboards without anyone protesting against them. There were commercials on television that were filled with absurd claims, sexism, racism, and all forms of bigotry. However, human perception has changed a lot over the years and this is reflected in the advertisement of various products that we see in the market today. Here are some ads from the past that would definitely never be allowed to run in this day and age.

“Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere.” – Tipalet

First off, secondhand smoke causes many health concerns, such as severe asthma attacks, lung cancer and many other cancers, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, and emphysema. It doesn’t matter if it smells like grapes, cherries, or wild blueberries, no woman should follow a man who just increased her risk of heart disease.

Perhaps both men and women back then weren’t aware of the hazards of smoking, but the scandalous double meaning of “blow in her face” and the sexual innuendo in this ad are rather blatant. This is probably influenced by the sexual revolution of the 1960s, a time of sexual liberation when people openly talked about activities in the bedroom.

That last tagline though, “Smokers of America, do yourself a flavor.” is pretty lame and the overall ad just objectifies women as slaves of men who would follow them anywhere once the man has engaged in sexual activity with them.

“A girl-size hand needs a girl-size pen.” – Parker

The big bosses of Parker Pen Company were probably giving each other pats on the back, thinking they just created an amazing product with the Compact Jotter, a dainty luxury pen that was supplied with the same amount of ink as their regular pen and can write up to 80,000 words without refilling.

Perhaps the new product was fine—considerate even. Until they kept comparing girls’ girl-sized hands with their man-size Jotter. They just implied that women are smaller and weaker and should be given a miniature version of a man’s pen because they cannot handle the standard man-size Jotter.

This ad did nothing to help promote gender equality. Moreover, it’s just a pen. It’s already a small thing, to begin with. The women handled bigger and heavier tools when they helped win World War II.

“Good thing he kept his head.” – Mr. Leggs

But where is his head? All we see is a woman’s disembodied head on the floor. Or is that sand? Why would you wear slacks and oxfords to the beach? And then you realize that it’s one of Mr. Leggs’ many sexist print ads. The infamous ad campaign for men’s slacks showed the superiority of males and the degrading position of females.

While the goal was probably to show how the man became incredibly irresistible when he wore his first pair of Mr. Leggs Slacks (she couldn’t keep her hands off him), but the emphasized line, “Good thing he kept his head,” and the following image made whatever attempt at humor tasteless and offensive. The sexual innuendo and double meaning on the word “head” are undeniably sexist and perverted.

At the bottom of the ad, there’s an offer to send for a “legg-gauge” to find out if the girl has perfect legs. Let a sexist and perverted company measure your legs? No, thank you.

“It’s nice to have a girl around the house.” – Mr. Leggs

Here is another ad by Mr. Leggs’ and it seems that all they did was make sure that women were somewhere on the floor in their ads. The ad is quite offensive since it shows a woman’s disembodied head on the floor as well. This ad goes a step further than just offending women. It goes on to offend animals as well.

Her head is attached to a tiger-skin rug and it is a violation of federal wildlife conservation laws, not to mention highly disturbing. The man in the picture has also propped his foot over the woman’s head as if to claim the kill. This is the same way that many hunters prop their foot over the heads of the animal that they have just shot.

The ad copy, “Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her… If you’d like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt a pair of these he-man Mr. Leggs Slacks,” again missed the mark at being funny although it definitely got people’s attention.

“Loose women may also be loaded with disease.” – Public Service Announcement

This ad serves as a reminder for men, particularly lonely businessmen on the road, sailors docking at ports, and servicemen returning from the war, that women with loose morals are just as dangerous as loaded guns. In fact, the ad doesn’t even bother with subtlety by using a metaphor. The ad just crassly states that “Loose Women may also be Loaded with Disease.”

The terrible attempt at figurative speech does not end with a gun being loaded with bullets while a promiscuous woman was loaded with disease. The ad also points out how V should stand for “Victory” and not “venereal diseases.”

The public service announcement is also rather one-sided, focusing on the diseases that men can get if they engage in one-night stands with easy women. However, there is a failure to mention unwanted pregnancies and the STDs women can get from men.

“If your husband ever finds out you’re not store-testing for fresher coffee…” – Chase & Sanborn Coffee Company

Most of us enjoy a cup of good coffee, but this ad will leave a bitter taste in your mouth. We’re sure coffee freshness is not as grave and serious a matter as domestic abuse. This ad by Chase & Sanborn implies that men can and will punish their wives if they bought flat, stale coffee instead of the fresh one the company packed and sold in sealed, pressurized cans.

This ad reinforces the idea that the husband is the dominant figure in the household who can discipline his wife like he would a misbehaving child—although excessive corporal punishment is now also forbidden. The ad also implies that inflicting injury on the woman you promised to cherish is acceptable whenever she defies your wishes—even if it’s just as trivial as a cup of coffee.

Violence against women remains a problem even in modern society, and this ad publicized how it is normal for a husband to hurt and humiliate his spouse. Perhaps it is because of ads like this that women continue to be the victims of domestic violence even today.

“Do you still beat your wife?” – Co-Le Sales Company

Here’s another ad that promotes domestic violence. Worse than the one by Chase & Sanborn where the woman looks distressed when her husband was spanking her, this ad by Co-Le Sales Company shows both husband and wife smiling during the punishment, seeming to find pleasure in inflicting and receiving pain.

The company sold a “rollicking, provocative, yet educational” booklet about the benefits of wife-beating. “Why You Should Beat Your Wife” was written by a proud practitioner of the so-called manly art. At a time when some husbands had probably advanced in thinking and realized domestic violence had no place in their home, Co-Le Sales Company states that men should never have stopped the barbaric practice to keep traditional masculine norms and maintain their dominance over women.

Order a booklet to receive a refresher on exercising violence and sexism. It’s hair-raising to think about how many copies of this booklet were sold.

“You mean a woman can open it?” – Del Monte Ketchup

At least a few times, we—both men and women—have purchased that jar of cream or bottle of sauce that’s difficult to open. Some of us have even resorted to watching instructional videos for hacks to open a tight bottle cap.

However, this ad exploited how women are the fairer and weaker sex who rely on big and strong men to open bottles for them. It seemed Del Monte designed the screw caps with grooves specifically for women because women wouldn’t be able to open a bottle otherwise. It is an innovative and helpful product, but the company presented it in a sexist and stereotyped manner that is deemed offensive today.

It would be fun to give the people behind this ad plastic bottles with childproof push-down-and-turn caps to open. No amount of brute strength would help them pry those stubborn things apart.



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