75 Interesting, Odd, And Funny Vintage Advertisements

Advertising is ingrained in American culture. It’s hard to avoid at this point. Year after year we see lifestyle fads change. New industries emerge. Old industries adapt or fade away. We see Moore’s law rapidly advancing technology to the point that some products can become obsolete in just a few years. I wonder how the ads of our time will be judged in 50 years? What will be this generation’s, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette”? Below are 75 vintage advertisements. Would they hold up today? You be the judge.

#1 Wow! 15 megabytes? And it’s only $2495

I haven't figured out what year this is from, but you sure needed to be well off to afford this hard drive. 15 megabytes of storage space for $2495. That's just for the hard drive. You would have also needed to purchase the installation kit for an extra $495.

#2 Anywhere… Anytime… Any Place…

Was this a time when accidents were so out of control and mysterious that an ad was needed in order to get enough people to investigate and solve these accidents? Or is this just an early job listing for an insurance company? 

#3 Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz

Ah yes. What a relief. Alka-Seltzer's marketing team sure knew exactly what people wanted for Christmas back in the day. Either that, or this is the product of the infamous worker elves strike of 1979. All Santa could get his hands on that year was a bunch of Alka-Seltzer. 

#4 The Ol’ Fear-based marketing trick

I was not around when people feared atomic fallout. This must have been a seriously frightening time. I can only imagine the paranoia people felt with the idea that 45,000,000 people could be taken out at the blink of an eye. I imagine these fallout shelter companies made bank scaring the bejeezus out of people with ads like this.

#5 From Werewolf to Hairwolf

Are you a Werewolf? Are you tired of everyone pointing out your ill-kept appearance? Your days of worry are over. Introducing Mr. Scarol Screme Formula. Hair color so natural only your make-up man knows for sure!

#6 Nobody talks about Peter Pain anymore

We get slugged with head colds every year. Why is it that Peter Pain is still on the loose roaming the streets sneakily giving us surprise immune beat downs every year? How has he not been captured and brought to justice after all these years? 

#7 Burt Reynolds Liked Money

Now a cult classic. When this came out it was quite the change for the man's man of Hollywood. Was it an attempt to boost his career to a new level? A way to expand his acting resume? Was it easy money? Either way this ad must have had people talking when it came out. "Hey, what's Macho man Burt Reynolds doing in a rom-com?"  

#8 Single switch remote control

Are you tired of getting up out of your easy chair in order to change the channel on your TV? Is your TV dinner getting cold because you are spending too much time changing the channel, changing the volume, and messing with your antenna? Those days are over. Introducing the single switch channel changer. It comes with a 30 foot cord for those who don't like sitting close enough to the TV to see what's on air. Installation holds a minimal risk of electric shock. Not included is the 30 foot gyroscopic volume spinner pole, which can be purchased at an additional cost. 

#9 Colt for Christmas

This is the classic appeal to emotion in advertising. The technique of using pride as a selling point will always work. I think this ad would stand up today.

#10 Read the fine print

The now bankrupt Columbia House brand made a killing off this marketing campaign. "Wow, Mom! I can get 10 8-track tapes of the hottest artists right now for only a dollar!..." ... Meanwhile, the fine print locks you into buying at least 9 more tapes or records at full price within the next 3 years. This practice is known as negative option billing. Columbia House tried to figure out a way to survive in the era of streaming. In the end, they never found a stable entry into the new world of the music industry.

#11 These shoes make me feel like a winner.

These shoes make me feel like a winner. That's why I sleep with them on. I shower with them on. I go swimming with them on... For real though, these are dope! Where can I find some new old stock Sears label Converse? Although Sears is closing more and more stores, I think if they put out an ad like this with some Converse made just for them they would pull in some revenue for sure. 

#12 Hold up. I need to go to the grocery store real quick…

If Kraft knows what's good for them they would run this ad all over the place. They would sell hella marshmallows, bags of caramels, and ice cream cones. I am sold. 

#13 Digital On A Chain

Bleep bloop bleep bloop. Hey Margret, is your beautiful ruby necklace making noise? Is that thing cursed? No Betty, it's Digital On A Chain. 

#14 The Doctor’s Choice is America’s Choice

Still hard to believe this was common in cigarette advertising back in the day. Did doctors actually believe this? 

#15 Don’t spend your life on the sidelines

Who knew that brawny he-men lived the best lives back in the day? Hey Johnny! Did you get the job and the girl today! ... No mom. They said come back when I'm not a 97 pound weakling. I need to borrow some money so I can hire Charles Atlas to change me into he-man.

#16 Enriched Bread

Nothing like the days of childhood when your mom would fix you a raw meat spread sandwich for breakfast. The eyes say it all. 

#17 Evel Knievel Sky-Sicle

Looking at the top half of this ad almost led me to believe I was about to see an awesome product the I'd surely want to buy. Once I scrolled to the bottom half. Um... Seems like the marketing department didn't review this before it went to print. Lol.

#18 Your very own exciting ant farm

Still a classic today. This ad would still work perfectly in the back of a Popular Science magazine.

#19 Shame Bryant

Lane Bryant with the passive aggressive ad. This would not fly to day.

#20 Head & Shoulders wants you to stop being a loser

That bottle sure looks an awful lot like a ranch dressing bottle. Back then I might have accidentally put shampoo on my pizza in the middle of the night. Or wait. Probably not considering I don't keep my shampoo in the refrigerator. 

#21 Designed for comfort

Do you and your significant other hate talking to each other and use cold, lumpy headphones as a way to block each other out? Well,  cold and lumpy headphones are now a thing of the past. Get yourself some Hear Muffs. They are warm, lumpy, and look like a doughnut with a bite missing.

#22 Just what she always dreamed of

Amazing that there was a time when it was widely accepted norm that women should be happy about receiving a gift like a vacuum. I can see being excited that we got a new vacuum to replace the broken one, but as a gift it seems insulting. Strange times back then. Strange times now.

#23 It’s a Kenwood

Kenwood didn't even try to use any clever word play on this one. I don't think Kenwood will be doing a throwback ad campaign any time soon.

#24 Oh Yeah!!!

I would gladly buy all of the Kool-Aid swag in this ad. All that cool stuff under $20? I'm sold. I just need a time machine so I can go back to 1976.

#25 Fresh Ideas

This is the type of advertising that gets me. I want to try this timeless recipe. The one thing I would change in this ad is the coupon. Instead of saving money they should instead provide a free roll of toilet paper with every box.

#26 Quality never goes out of style

This is how Levi's cemented their place as one of the top pants companies. They made the toughest quality pants that ended up being the preferred leg wear of the Robot Wars of 1973. Many died defeating the Robots, but their pants lived on to be sold for an inflated price at second hand vintage shops around the Midwest. 

#27 Yeah it’s a Unicorn. Why do you ask?

If you were a kid who was all about having the most obscure toys and cartoon interests, Unico was for you. This is what a unicorn looks like when you remove the rn.  

#28 How to be a baller

How did I get so much coinage you ask? Easy. I got it by running a foosball franchise in my spare time just like other men. All I have is time.

#29 Digestible Meat Milk

The newest trend in baby food is meat in a form digestible as milk. Oh man. I can only imagine the smell. 

#30 Want better marks in school? Binge watch TV

Tired of your kids being stupid and asking you a bunch of annoying questions? Get them a Motorola television. With a trusted brand like Motorola you can trust that your kids will get better marks in school. A kid who doesn't watch TV gets marks like a timeout for pushing another student. A kid who watches TV will get way better marks such as a one week suspension for giving the teacher an atomic wedgie. So, if you are tired of your kid being annoying and want them to get way cooler marks on their permanent record, buy a Motorola television... What's that? Marks mean grades? Oh... 

#31 Gorgeous Mustache

The rest of this ad is missing. Are they selling tweezers? If so, I'm not sure going down the harsh route in their marketing campaign was necessary to sell more tweezers. 

#32 The Golden Era of Saturday Morning Cartoons

I sure wish there was a channel with reruns of the old Saturday morning cartoons on loop 24/7. Those were the golden years of Saturday morning cartoons. The only thing that would bring it all together for me is to bake a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Kids these days just watch bizarre nonsense on YouTube. Bring back the classics!

#33 Did the TMNT like slime?

Did Turtles in Time have a Konami code like Street Fighter did? 

#34 Be Choosey

#35 Instructions included with each monkey

I had no idea that mail order pets were a thing. You could order Squirrel Monkey? I wonder how often people bought them and then abandoned them because they couldn't properly take care of them. I also didn't know that one of America's favorite pets has always been baby raccoons. 

#36 National Rabbit Week

Dad: "Hey kids! It's national rabbit week" ... Kids: "Yay! do we get to have rabbits?" ... Dad: "Yes Bobby." ... Bobby: "I want to name mine George" ... Dad: "Oh. Um. We are going to eat them, so it's best we don't give them names." ... Ahhhh!!!!

#37 Toaster Bacon

I need to understand why this isn't still a thing. Or is it?

#38 Iver Johnson with the creepiness

Completely understandable that they went with the safety angle considering some of the language used in the ad. Accidental discharges must have been a big enough issue that they needed to 

#39 Revolving Hammock

Molby was ahead of their time with this hammock. They could easily sell this again without all of the pretend medical benefits and rewrite the ad copy to be a hammock for binge watching Netflix.

#40 Va-rice-ity

The early beginnings of the rice industry's push in America. This reminds me of the "Got Milk?" ads that were all over the place when I was younger.

#41 Eat your pudding if you want to be a sports hero

Everyone knows that eating delicious pudding is the key to becoming a sports hero. Ready to go score the winning touchdown? Chug a quick cup of Royal pudding.

#42 Starcade Megafun

Interesting to see the lineup for Saturday morning cartoons. 5 hours of animated fun. The line up for this ad is: 8:30: Sylvester & Tweety/Daffy & Speedy 9:30: The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show 10:30: Gilligan's Planet 11:00: Pandamonium 11:30: Meatballs & Spaghetti 12:00: The Popeye & Olive Comedy Show 12:30: The New Fat Albert Show 1:00: Blackstar 1:30: The CBS Children's Film Festival

#43 Gotta’ save money

This one is definitely about saving money.

#44 1950’s toys were high energy

This is quite the toy, isn't it? Completely safe and harmless? Hmm... I wonder... Imagine this being sold as a toy today. 

#45 William’s Shaving Soap

Shaving saloons? 

#46 Yikes

Lol. Their reaction is hilarious. Is this the original hippie shower? Oh wait, I think I know what this was for...

#47 Hair of the dog?

Apparently there was a time when drinking in the morning was normal enough that it was used in advertising.

#48 Do yourself a flavor

Ha ha. When this came out it must have been hilarious to see a bunch of dudes blowing cigar smoke in girls faces. Definitely a funny marketing technique to look back on. I'm sure people are still gullible enough to fall for an ad like this. Also, it says you get about 5 for 25 cents. So sometimes you might get 4? 

#49 Snackwiches

Oh my goodness. Snackwiches? A grilled cheese sandwich that can be made in a toaster? I need these. Jolly Green Giant, Where did the snackwiches go! Did they taste bad or something? Why would something like this no longer exist?

#50 Space Ranger

Richard Timewell, the inventor of the Space Ranger believed that it would be a viable alternative to the automobile. He was so convinced that he put his and his wife's life savings and the mortgage on their home into it. Only 1 was sold. The ad claims it could reach 5,000 feet but Timewell from what I can find it only ever reached 200 feet.  Apparently the Timewell needed to work out some bugs after hitting a few trees and starting various fires. 

#51 Strict regimen of soda and other sugary carbonated beverages

Do your child a favor, start their life off with soda pop as early as possible. Laboratory tests have proven that babies who start drinking soda during the early formative period have a much higher chance of gaining acceptance and "fitting in". Lol. Quite the bold claim. 

#52 A Galaxy of Treasures

This ad would still work perfectly today. Star Wars is more popular than ever. 

#53 Star Wars Watches

Again, this ad would work perfect today. These would sell out in no time.

#54 Street Fighter II Turbo

An absolute classic. I can't remember. Did this one have the Konami code that went: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, select, start?

#55 Therapy?

I wonder how many people died thinking this was safe and gentle therapy back then.

#56 Why they fail

The makers of Great Books Dept want you to know that just because you are a failure in life doesn't mean your kid has to be. What better way to redeem yourself than to spend all of your money on a bunch of books your kid will never read?

#57 From toothache to party in minutes

Hard to believe that it was so accessible back in the day. I'm curious to know how many products were available over the counter back then? Was everyone addicted to this stuff back then?

#58 Keep up with the house and don’t be fat

How can the house be clean if you don't watch your weight? 

#59 For the cause

The cause. We're just doing it for the cause. No it isn't for the fortune, it isn't for the fame. It's a scheme, dream, a barterine. We want everyone to think the same. That's why I'm a Ballantine's loyalist. Or wait. I just drink every day and Ballantin'es is the first scotch I see when I walk into the store. I'm loyal to the placement not the product. 

#60 Everyone’s Pal

Sometimes you are so blinded by love that you need an advertisement to give you a fresh perspective on what you think your relationship is vs what you think it is. 

#61 New aluminium soft top can

I had no idea people needed can openers to open beer way back when. 

#62 Wham-O Water Wiennie

The original Super Soaker. This amazing power tube squirts water over great distances! Crazy water fun! Great outdoor fun! 

#63 He-man Toothpaste

Was this just for flavor or did it work as a sneaky night cap?

#64 Your own little Detroit

The modern version of this toy would look much different.

#65 Gillette Safety Razor

Begin early? This seems to be a common theme in old advertisements. 

#66 Doctors Prefer Camels

What kinds of ads today do you think will  be looked back on with the same WTF were they thinking? as we do with the Camel ad?

#67 Buy land in the tropics

Bottom right: "Advertising. Another word for freedom of choice."... An ad disguised as a public service message. They have land in the tropics to sell you. This was run in a bunch of newspapers back in 1986. Wonder if it worked?

#68 Cosmic Vision

Tired of being a dork? Become the biggest dork on the block by purchasing the Tom Corbett Space Cadet Cosmic Vision Helmet. 

#69 Ayds

With the AIDS epidemic becoming more publicly known in the 1980's, the appetite suppressant brand Ayds took a serious hit to sales. Although spelled differently, there was pretty much nothing Ayds could do to keep their brand name as the first thought in people's minds. They eventually pulled the product from the market.

#70 Psssssst

When is the last time you remember seeing a product named after the sound it makes?

#71 Shameless Schick

Nothing like a company taking advantage of a tragedy for monetary gain. Schick thought it was a good idea to make up a story about the survivors of the Hindenburg crash choosing Schick razors as their shaver of choice. 

#72 Ginger Ale

Is it a coincidence that an ad for Ginger Ale decided to go with a red head?

#73 The “fat time of day”

like this are the reason sugar made its way into a huge portion of the food we eat in America. Industry propaganda is a powerful tool.

#74 Sarah got herself caught up in an early MLM scheme

This MLM product party tactic is still being used today to successfully sell people stuff they don't even want. Amazing to see it used in a 1970's context.

#75 Farty Pants

Ovaltine: The only Fart-Supressing Food-Drink... Seriously though, did parents actually punish their kids for farting too much back in the day? Enough to where Ovaltine's marketing team decided this was the angle to use to sell more?

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