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Who Are the Ad Wizards?

February 9, 2012

I believe you've met my brother and his bottom?

I don’t have cable TV.  Isn’t that adorable?

For nearly a decade, my TV-watching has been confined to Netflix and whatever colored pixel formations are picked up by our rabbit ears.  Yes, they’re called “rabbit ears”.  Isn’t that adorable, too?

I heard from people who know a lot about a lot of things that there are these ads on TV called “commercials”.  I hear they’re compelling.  I hear they’re like fine works of art.  I hear there’s a man wearing a suit covered in question marks that makes people want to find money.  I hear people like money.  I hear there’s a woman wearing a suit covered in fleece that enables you to sleep on the toilet.  I hear people like to sleep on the toilet.

But how could these “commercials” be any more compelling than those of the Golden Age of advertising — those slick, clever ads I once saw on the pages of my mother’s Good Housekeeping?  Those brilliant ads that convinced me at age six that I wanted to buy a douche.  I heard it would improve my tennis game.  Never mind that I didn’t play tennis.  Never mind that my brother called me douche.

Here are a few of my other favorite ads.


Ads that made you want to eat stuff.

Mmmmmm . . . is anyone else getting hungry?  I love the old-style photography back in 1978.  It made even curried pig brains served on a bed of parsley look outrageously appetizing.

So many tasty clip-out Jell-O recipes back in the Golden Age.  And I didn’t think they could make Jell-O any better.  Then they submerged it in cake.  You got that?  There’s more.  Then they put Cool Whip on top.  Are you kidding me?  The Sunday night church basement potluck dinners just got fun again.

But it gets better.  Because then some culinary geniuses put together the Jell-O Miracle Whip dream team.  Oh, please tell me that’s a walnut on top of this.  It is!  And canned fruit cocktail, marshmallows and shredded carrots, too?  Oh, you’re too good to me, Jell-O.

We don’t actually know what Billy is talking about here.  Something about becoming a man.  Mom’s certain it’s the Manwich.  Serving Billy Manwich makes Mom feel good about his otherwise dismal prospects of one day becoming a man.

Ads that made you want to clean stuff.

Madge, are you telling me that it will make my hands softer while I do the dishes?  Soft hands and clean dishes?  Get out!  What are you gonna tell me next, that cleaning windows will make my nails stronger?  That waxing the floor will make me smarter?  This is all like a dream come true!

For a moment, I almost thought this ad could be sexist.  Wait, is it?  Nah.  Well, if it is, I’m so focused on “the utility company’s expense” part that I scarcely noticed anything else.  You see what they just did there?  Yeah, I didn’t either.  I don’t really understand anything going on here.  I’m as confused as any housewife is when her husband starts talking about complex matters like “money” and “utility bills” and “budgeting” and “math”.  And rather than try to make sense of that nonsense, I instead have a sudden urge to do my husband’s laundry.  Brilliant!

Ads that made you want hair stuff.

Take that, stupid girl in my 2nd grade class with the beautiful, long, thick, shiny hair that I never had.  That’s what you get for being perfect.  Have fun with your Guess jeans and your Homecoming dance and your head lice.

It’s hard for me make sense of this primitive 1970s sexual banter.  Does “JACKPOT” mean “Let’s head to Vegas to elope,” does it mean “I’m getting lucky tonight” or does it mean “It seems I’ve effectively covered up the pot I just smoked in the back of Jerry’s Camaro ten minutes before my date with Tad.”

This ad is beyond brilliant.  I’m certain that after wrapping up this one, the ad executives slapped each other on the backs and clinked a few Double Old-Fashioneds together.  You see why it’s so compelling, don’t you?  After reading this, you don’t really know what “sexy” is anymore, do you?  They try to tell you the right side is sexy.  But I’m not so sure that it isn’t the left side.  The man in the glasses is trying to tell me it’s neither side.  Oh, I don’t know what you are, sexy.  And if I buy this stuff, maybe I’ll no longer care.

Thank you, Vintage Ad Browser, for providing such a delightful library of magazine ads from my childhood that at one time actually made me want to buy stuff.

77 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2012 3:01 pm

    I like how the “not-sexy” looks of the 70’s are today’s hottest styles.

    Ad wizards are the ones who didn’t get their letters from Hogwarts and are just scraping by.

    • February 9, 2012 4:36 pm

      You are so right on those being today’s hottest styles. I can’t wait for the hairstyle on guy “B” on the right (the Barry Manilow special) to come back around again.

  2. February 9, 2012 3:06 pm

    What a fun trip down memory lane!
    Then, I started thinking about Spam.

    • February 9, 2012 4:37 pm

      Ugh, Spam! I don’t think I ever did get to try that mystery meat. Nor will I.

  3. February 9, 2012 3:12 pm

    Gee your hair smells terrific. and Manwhich totally remember those. How funny, a few seconds ago, I was flipping through a magazine that was showcasing lots of hair for the latest shampoo. I thought “Wow, that’s a lot of hair” which reminded me of that 70’s shampoo, the one with the hippie blonde cartoon on the label where she has flowers in her hair (lots of hair) and the bottle was clear reflecting the green shampoo. Do you remember what that was? My aunt used to buy that all the time.

    Feel free to visit me at my end of the blog-o-sphere sometime. Once in awhile I post about ads too…but I blog about everything. I found one really funny ad that I posted for Valentine’s Day. :)

    Lake Forest, CA

  4. February 9, 2012 3:13 pm

    OH, Angie, you are killing me. What a way to round out the day I’ve been having by laughing so hard it hurts.

    By the way, I never knew wearing a fleece suit while sleeping on the toilet was such a lucrative business, until I clicked on the link and saw it was a Forever Lazy. As you know from my last post, nothing says romance and passion like a Forever Lazy.

    • February 9, 2012 3:18 pm

      Darla, I haven’t yet read your latest post. Shame on me. I’m on my way over right now.

    • February 9, 2012 3:19 pm

      Oh, wait! Yes! Forever Lazy on the couch watching Downton Abbey. It’s all coming back to me now. I can remember everything from the 80s but apparently not the most brilliant blog post of the past week.

      • February 9, 2012 5:43 pm

        Angie, you need to stop making me laugh, it’s really getting messy what with the spewing and the snorting all over the keyboard and all….

        (that reply you wrote over at GG’s about the 30 computers had me crying I was laughing so hard. And your caption entries this week were top-notch. Loved the burping one! I predict you and Lenore are in the finals this week…)

      • February 9, 2012 10:02 pm

        Please! I’m so not able to get into the groove with caption contests these days. The competition has seemed so much more fierce the past few weeks. Not like the old days when there were about 10 entries total. Ah well. Everyone wants to be Molly Ringwald-Claire, it seems. And now that’s you!

      • February 12, 2012 12:36 pm

        …and my caption contest prediction proves to be true…you AND Lenore (and…ahem…myself) are in the finals. What is GG trying to do? Pull us apart by purposefully pitting us up against each other? He’s too clever for his own good. First Huffington Post hires him and now this. Will his attempt at world domination ever be stopped?! And will anyone vote for my caption this time around considering you were the only one to vote for me last time?!….

      • February 12, 2012 3:55 pm

        I was by no means the only person who voted for your last entry — that was the best caption ever written! I did vote every day for you (ahem…30 computers) but I saw the other finalists were putting forth great efforts to get their readers’ support, too. You had that one in the bag. Now this one…not my best work. Not to mention, who even remembers Beach Blanket Bingo. I think I’m going to throw my votes to you as you have a better shot of wrestling away total world domination from GG ;)

      • February 14, 2012 9:27 am

        You can see how much I do NOT want to sort out the billing mess that is my biggest client’s account, because I’m haunting old comments. I missed so much while I was away?

        Did Darla win last week’s caption contest? Congrats, so big time!
        Look at y’all in the finals again this week – it’s a stellar line up.
        What’s that about GG and the Huffington Post? Joke or real?
        And what about JOhn and Marcia? Will true love triumph, or will his evil wife Sue, who has been on a ventilator for 2 years, magically come back to life and still look hot and not even wasted away (like Uma THurman in Kill Bill) and ruin everything?

  5. Tony permalink
    February 9, 2012 3:27 pm

    Those scrambled eggs look like a big pile of kettle chips. Yum.

    • February 9, 2012 4:38 pm

      When you put it that way, I think I could easily pile up a couple plates of that mess.

  6. February 9, 2012 3:28 pm

    How said is it that I remember each and every one of these ads? I was waiting for the Wella Balsam shampoo (you’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on …) – and Body on Tap – the shampoo with beer.

    AND, it is nice to read about someone else that does not have cable. We have a TV antenna on our roof – like the old days. And I rely on Netflix to keep me current on the latest movies and shows – give or take a year.

    • February 9, 2012 4:40 pm

      Yes, I loved the “tell two friends” ad! Whatever happened to ads that made you want to go tell two friends and have your heads multiply like the Brady Bunch tic-tac-toe board?

      Down with cable! We also have an ancient 1960s GIANT antenna near the side of our house that must’ve been a pretty radical thing back in the day.

  7. February 9, 2012 3:30 pm

    These were great! I had forgotten about the “Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific Shampoo.” It really did smell terrific. And that Jell-o rainbow cake…I used to beg my mom to let us make that. My favorite part was punching the holes in the cake with the back end of a wooden spoon.

    • February 9, 2012 4:42 pm

      I completely remember the poking holes in the cake part. I remember my mom also doing it with pudding. Pudding striped cakey goodness, right there.

      • February 9, 2012 8:10 pm

        I remember the pudding cake, too. We all ate crap and managed to survive into adulthood.

      • February 9, 2012 10:25 pm

        I’m still waiting to find out that Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup makes you grow a second head. Then I’m screwed.

  8. February 9, 2012 4:01 pm

    I thought our meals made with soup, jello, and Miracle Whip were because we were poor. I had no idea they were actual recipes advertised in magazines. (I was far too busy taking the Cosmopolitan quiz: Do you know what sexy is?).

    • February 9, 2012 4:44 pm

      Oh, your family was on the cutting edge of delicacies. My mom made quite a few of those, too. Lots of torn-out magazine recipes in our house back then.

      I loved that Cosmo quiz, along with the quiz “Does he love me even though he slept with my best friend?”

  9. February 9, 2012 4:32 pm

    Just so you know, you aren’t missing much on cable…our only TV lost it’s input capabilities (good-bye wii) a few weeks ago from lightening so now our Netflix capabilities are confined to my computer’s 15″ screen and regular television watching sucks, badly.

    On another note you forgot all the ads of cigarette smoking being pushed by doctors.

    • February 9, 2012 4:54 pm

      Cigarette smoking being pushed by doctors sounds like some great marketing work. I have several ads I’m going to have to hold over for another time. I’ll have to run a special summertime ad wizard post that includes the ad I found for Baby Oil. Did you hear the news? I guess Baby Oil has healthy tanning benefits.

  10. February 9, 2012 4:34 pm

    Oh my! That IS some nostalgia you dug up, girl. I think I can pinpoint just about when my generation’s obesity epidemic began. Mayo and Jello? I wonder who’s bright idea that was. And my dad’s ultra sexy 80’s perm (replete in poodleness) and James Brolin beard still haunts me. It makes me wonder if he was tempted by the Brylcreem folks.

    • February 9, 2012 4:48 pm

      Poodle perm with beard — I know that look! I know it so well. Give me a second and I’m pretty sure I can come up with an 80s evening soap character who sported that very look. Possibly on Hotel, maybe on Falcon Crest. I love “James Brolin beard” written as if it’s a facial disorder one suffers from. Because it is.

  11. February 9, 2012 5:49 pm

    I didn’t know “moister” was a word. I learned something new today.

    • February 9, 2012 10:04 pm

      Ew. I hope I never see that word again in an ad. Not for cake, not for dish soap and certainly not for feminine hygiene products.

  12. February 9, 2012 5:58 pm

    Oh my god Angie you have out done yourself again!! I am posting this to my company’s Facebook page now! Did I ever tell you I work in television advertising ? You are hilarious, I may have to print this post out and put it on my fridge. Love, mc

    • February 9, 2012 10:06 pm

      Maybe I did know that you did that? (Fantastically formed sentence.) Yes, I believe I did know that. Fits with your nice gravatar, too. So they’re still doing television advertising these days, eh? Well whadya know. Here I thought print ads continued to be the wave of the future. Thanks for stopping by again, MC.

  13. February 9, 2012 6:16 pm

    I just made some Campbell eggs, dipped them in dish-washing soap and massaged them into my scalp. That’s what I was suppose to do, right?

    • February 9, 2012 6:25 pm

      Hey! Thanks for the link. I didn’t realize the Forever Lazy was to my blog. Just for that I took the Campbell eggs out of my hair and ate them as a way of saying “Thanks!”

      • February 9, 2012 10:12 pm

        That’s okay, I was so forever lazy that I didn’t even check to see if you approved my link.

    • February 9, 2012 10:11 pm

      Wait, I think you’re on to something. And then you’re supposed to filter them through a cold washing cycle and possibly save money on your utility bill.

  14. February 9, 2012 7:33 pm

    Just too funny! Love seeing these old ads. My husband has a special gift of being able to remember old jingles from our childhood: “Casey winks, he talks to you…” for that dumb Casey the Robot, the Schoolhouse Rock songs (all of them). You never know when he’ll break into song. “I’m just a bill, sitting on Capitol Hill.” It’s insane. I should blog about that sometime.

    • February 9, 2012 10:16 pm

      Yes, I am quite a fan of Schoolhouse Rock songs, along with every cartoon PSA of the 70s and 80s. Your husband sounds like a swell guy. Do blog about that soon.

  15. February 9, 2012 7:44 pm

    I don’t have cable either, but thanks to this post I now see why Mad Men is such a popular show.

    I’m also reminded of exactly why my tummy yells at me a little everyone I pass by the cans of Manwich at the store. Old stomachaches die hard.

    • February 9, 2012 10:24 pm

      I watch Mad Men on Netflix. It’s pretty much my greatest love in television next to Downton Abbey. Ugh. I need a hobby.

      Baby wants Manwich?

      • February 12, 2012 12:51 pm

        OK. I was scrollin’ on down and Mad Men caught my eye. I am in love with this show!! I resisted watching it for the longest time but I am hooked. I love Jon Hamm, oh hubba hubba…I am in the middle of season 3.Between that and Downton Abbey, I will never blog again.

      • February 12, 2012 4:05 pm

        I will argue with anyone, be it The Wire or The Sopranos fans (and you don’t want to scrap with their fans), that Mad Men is the greatest television drama created of the past two decades. I also love watching the rampant sexism while knowing that the show has an unpredented 75 % female writers. Season 3 is my favorite season.

  16. February 9, 2012 8:18 pm

    OK, this one his way too close to home, as I am preparing for a medical test tomorrow. It involves jell-o, sleep and toilets. I was afraid to read any more. Please post something else soon for my reading pleasure or I will give you even more information about my test.

    • February 9, 2012 10:23 pm

      You can’t leave me hanging with that dandy, Elyse. If I don’t see a blog post about this soon, I’m going to be shouting it from the rooftops that there is something the folks over at Jell-O are not telling us.

      • February 10, 2012 1:21 pm

        The folks over at the Jell-O company should simply be telling us all that jell-o is vile and that you should only permit it to slither down your throat on its merry way to the septic system.

      • February 11, 2012 2:15 pm

        Isn’t it made of boiled down animals? That’s why I don’t eat it anymore. Although I was also told that horse hooves are in my bubble gum.

  17. February 9, 2012 8:34 pm

    You forgot Hamburger Helper. It really helped all those folks who didn’t know how to add elbow macaroni to their hamburger. A big advance… (and they still sell it, so it must be a classic.)

    • February 9, 2012 10:21 pm

      It’s very difficult to do those two steps you mentioned — what were those two steps again? It’s so complicated that I just forgot what I was supposed to do — brown hamburger, cook macaroni…oh, crap, what happens next? Well, at least I know how to tear open a foil seasoning pouch.

  18. February 9, 2012 8:44 pm

    Umm…what’s wrong with the mom in the Manwich ad? If my mom watched me eat like that I would’ve refused to eat and would have probably died of starvation at a young age.

    You taught me an important lesson about Brylcreem: their target demographic is the exact opposite of what I previously thought.

    • February 9, 2012 10:09 pm

      I know, what is up with that look on her face? It’s like she’s about to poison him or something. Well, she is. I remember Manwich pretty well and she is.

      Brylcreem’s target audience is Barry Manilow.

      • February 9, 2012 10:52 pm

        Haha! Yes, Manwich wasn’t my favorite either. I once stayed the night at a friend’s house and was forced to eat Manwich with cheese in it. I hate cheese with a passion. That dinner is something I’ll never be able to erase from my memory. Food trauma of the worst kind.

        I was thinking more along the lines of Barry White. Or myself.

      • February 11, 2012 2:41 pm

        You nearly lost me with the “hate cheese” part, but I imagine that might’ve felt similar to when my mom sneaked in microscopic onions every time she cooked. I felt so betrayed. And sick to boot.

  19. Sarchasm2 permalink
    February 10, 2012 1:36 am

    Brylcreem was so cool. We even used it as suntan oil. :)

  20. February 10, 2012 7:28 am

    I used to have a small collection of ’70s cookbooks just because the food was so bizarre and disgusting to look at. My friends and I always talked about one day hosting a ’70s dinner party, but we never did get around to it. Now I want to, but alas! I moved away and now I have no local friends. (And now the mystery of where I get the time to cut all this paper is revealed, haha)

    I love looking at all these old ads. Gee, this post was terrific.

    • February 11, 2012 2:38 pm

      I used to love looking at the yellowed, inedible food in my mom’s 1970s Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. People really loved eggs in the 70s, it seems. I recall a delightful photo of a rack of lamb with accents of hard boiled egg. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

      If you lived in my city, I would invite you over for a gross 1970s food cooking party. I know just the hideous apron I’d wear, too.

  21. February 10, 2012 8:05 am

    The “Gee, doesn’t my hair smell great?” shampoo cracks me up and I don’t know quite why you want your significant other to come up behind you, smell your hair, and go, “Gee, that hair smells mighty fine! Now, go do the dishes, the soap will soften up your hands too!”

    • February 11, 2012 2:35 pm

      Why even bother showering? Simply dab a bit of the shampoo behind your ears and you’re ready to go!

  22. February 10, 2012 9:41 am

    I forgot about “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific” shampoo. Long name that says it all, except what does “terrific” smell like. I remember Brylcreem for “A little dab will do ya” but it always looked like you used a can of 40w oil, and they couldn’t spell “creem.” Great post. Oh, and I wonder what happened to Madge. Probably deceased like Mr. Whipple and the Maytag Repairman. And, oooh, I’ve gotta try that Jello cake.

    • February 11, 2012 2:33 pm

      Pouring a can of 40w oil over hair sounds attractive. I can see why those men are so “sexy” (if they indeed are — I can no longer tell). I also wonder if there is a special Heaven where Mr. Whipple, Madge, the Maytag Repairman and (I’d add to that) the Where’s the Beef lady, the Bartles and James guys and the “time to make the donuts” guy. I imagine that Heaven looks like a grocery store aisle and they are all standing behind tiny tables of product samples.

  23. February 10, 2012 11:52 am

    Ah, Angie. Reminiscing about the old ads, before there were negroes. Back then they weren’t even in ads, and now we have one as president!
    The kid eating the manwich is definitely a candidate for TMJ. You should never open your mouth that wide.

    • February 11, 2012 2:26 pm

      Actually, Les, you are wrong about that. I did manage to find a couple of ethnically diverse magazine ads. They were both, not kidding, both ads for jheri curl hair care.

  24. February 10, 2012 12:14 pm

    I HATED the smell of Gee Your Hair Smells Like Barf Mixed With Industrial Lubricants and Roses.
    I still LOVE that jello cake.
    That boy in the Manwich ad grew up to be a major talent in the porn industry – Johnny Manwich (famous line “I got your Manwich right here, baby”)

    • February 11, 2012 2:16 pm

      You know, Peg, now that you mention it, he did look a little familiar to me. I mean, I heard someone else say he looked familiar.

      I’m so glad to see your pretty mug around here. Hope Florida is still treating you well.

  25. February 10, 2012 1:37 pm

    too funny!

  26. Emily permalink
    February 10, 2012 2:40 pm

    I always thought that Manwich sauce came with the meat already in it, but since it doesn’t…….I don’t get it. If you still have to cook the hamburger meat separately, then why not just add regular, generic tomato sauce, and some spices or something? Now, I’m a vegan, so this is all just abstract curiosity in my case, but seriously, how does Manwich sauce make it easier to make a sloppy joe, or a “Manwich?” Also, what’s the difference between a sloppy joe and a Manwich? By the way, the word “Manwich” reminds me of cannibalism.

    • February 11, 2012 2:13 pm

      Yes, I think a lot of people believed there was meat in there. Then they poured it out onto bread and it tasted like a ketchup sandwich. Mmmmmmm.

  27. February 10, 2012 7:21 pm

    The Manwich idea is very similar to the “Man Handler” campaign. “How do you handle a hungry man? The Manhandler”! This was also a sandwich mix. The commerical song was a sort of western type style.

    • February 11, 2012 2:12 pm

      This sounds vaguely familiar. I’m not surprised to hear about this. Marketing research shows that if you put “Man” in the name of any product it will sell. Either that or feature a cowboy or a lumberjack in flannel. Maybe you could work that into your soap?

  28. February 12, 2012 6:43 am

    The man in the glasses frightens me. I think he has someone in his basement. Still, after all these years.

    • February 12, 2012 4:11 pm

      Ha! I completely agree with you on that assessment. I’m also fairly certain he hails from Iceland. Possibly Sweden.

  29. February 12, 2012 11:02 pm

    The guy in the Cold Power ad? My first husband.

    • February 13, 2012 10:10 pm

      Get out! He’s my ex-boyfriend. That means you and I are practically related and he’s practically Kevin Bacon.

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