From bizarre to sexist to bad: Christmas ads from the past.
CAUTION: Whenever looking into the past, we must remember the changes in values, ideas, and lifestyle over the course of time. Keeping that reality in mind, I’ve gathering a bunch of Christmas advertisements from decades past, and some not all that long ago, which to our modern eyes are questionable at best. These samplings run the gamut from humorous to cringeworthy, from sexist to insulting, from simply bizarre to downright creepy, and all the way to “What were they thinking?” LOL!
Until quite recently, smoking cigarettes was not only extremely commonplace, but the industry was HUGE. While smoking has not completely disappeared and likely never will, cigarette manufacturers do not advertise their products as they once did. I am not sure they are legally allowed to, although that is an assumption I didn’t look up for validity. At any rate, these six ads (a minuscule sampling) from the 1940s to 1960s are bizarre not only in what they are advertising but the joyful connection of cigarettes to Christmas.
Now, as for these next batches of ads which are firmly in the “sexist” or “male chauvinist” category based on our modern sensibilities, we must admit that for most homemakers of the past, and even many ladies today, being gifted a useful kitchen appliance or household cleaning device isn’t necessarily a bad thing or unwanted. Depends upon the lady, of course.
Here is a true story: Many years ago my husband gave me a white Kitchen Aid upright mixer for Christmas. I was not pleased by the gift, although not because I suspected any kind of sexist subliminal message. I know my husband too well for that! Rather, I was disappointed because while I like to cook, I am not big on baking or major culinary extravaganzas that warrant a massive mixer. I know how expensive these mixers are and was imagining all the jewelry or books I could have gotten instead! His heart was in the right place and as the years passed, although I didn’t use the mixer often, when I did it proved to be one of the best gifts ever. 20 years and counting, that Kitchen Aid mixer is going strong, and my daughter (who does love to bake) requested one from her husband for a Christmas gift. He got her a red one!
With that in mind, let’s have a good laugh at the following, but don’t judge the males in advertising or the husbands who bought the item too harshly.
In all fairness, what woman doesn’t love a functioning vacuum or toaster? And while my eyes have never sparkled over fine silver cutlery or serving ware, I may be an exception. That cheekily said, I doubt there is a woman alive who wants a gift alluding to her propensity to talk a lot, her pale or bad complexion, or her weight!
The advert examples below are fascinating to me based on the modern attitude towards firearms. I believe passionately in our Constitutionally protected right to bear arms, and have, in fact, been gifted a handgun for Christmas, so these ads are fine by me. However, I recognize not all agree.
As a romance novelist I certainly cannot find fault with adding a bit of spiciness to the holiday season, but these ads are hilarious. Personally, I would never give Playboy magazine as a gift for Christmas or any other special day, but to each their own!
These final examples are random and largely speak for themselves. Enjoy!