50 Advertisements From The 1947 Saturday Evening Post
Maybe advertising is not an accurate portrayal of what America is or ever was. But it shines a light on American dreams, living the good life and most of all consumerism. Today we’re turning back the clock to just after World War II.
All the ads appear in the February 8, 1947 Saturday Evening Post, a bastion of conservative American values.
American soldiers returning home to a prosperous economy. A baby boom follows. Spend, America, spend.
One thing you’ll notice if you read the fine print: EVERYTHING was “Made in America.” Everything. Even a simple comb. Yes, Ajax comb company took out a small ad in the magazine that must have cost them the equivalent of at least 500 combs. It’s the sort of item that today would only be made in China, as we’ve decimated our ability to produce our own goods.
Appliances, Food & Beverages
What did advertisers try to communicate to the public? Apparently the importance of keeping things cold. No fewer than five ads appear for refrigeration.
Four of the companies are out of business. Admiral in the 1960s had over 5,000 employees producing all sorts of electronic devices. Today it’s a ghostly survivor, acquired by Maytag and then by Whirlpool. And they don’t make Admiral refrigerators anymore.
The things you would put into the fridge were also shown to their best advantage.
Seven- Up still in business today. Hires America’s oldest (and best) root beer has been essentially killed off. Spur? Who knew Canada Dry, famous for ginger ale, made a cola?
Instead of all these carbonated beverages… you could have had a V-8! Or better yet…Hemo.
Borden’s mascot Elsie the Cow, tells readers that the skater is a “Hemo gal!” Giving a vitamin infused chocolate milk drink a vampirish name didn’t help it flourish.
The miracle of Sanka instant coffee.
Dogs versus cats. No contest. Two ads for dog food. None for cats.
Continental travel was still primarily by rail and the railroads did a great business before flying became more economical. A cruise was a classy experience, not a week of surrounding yourself with overweight tattooed vagabonds in a floating motel.
After World War II the open road beckoned to Americans. The automobile and auto products feature prominently in this issue. One of the most effective ads in the magazine features an automobile, but not in a typical way –
Hartford Insurance recaps a man’s day who dies in an automobile accident. Very stark and very real.
Tobacco ads always appeared in the weekly and monthly magazines. Lucky Strike was the most popular cigarette in America. Do you know anyone that still smokes a pipe (not a hash or crack pipe)?
Before computers there was the art of handwriting. So advertising pens and pencils was natural. Especially if you had a famous author like Mackinlay Kantor endorse your product.
Pragmatic tool and accessory companies have a surprising number of ads. The Saturday Evening Post had a weekly circulation of over 3.8 million. Each copy was passed around so readership was much higher than circulation. If less than half of one percent of readers bought your product it was a good use of your advertising budget. A full page black and white ad cost $10,000, a four color full page ad, $14,300.
Again notice every product was produced right here in the good ole U.S.A.. Tape, hoists, phonograph needles and primitive hearing aids
The thing about these ads is that they are not really about the product themselves, but about the overall spirit of the company and their benefit to humanity.
Pharmaceutical companies like Upjohn and Squibb touted their aid to fighting diseases. While Bell Telephone and General Electric highlighted the innovative men who improved the world with their inventions. Corning and Dow inform that they are important to the respective fields of glass and chemicals.
There is an enormous amount of text for a Ipana toothpaste ad featuring a beauty queen.
It is unlikely that Eureka would choose this headline to emphasize how much easier it is to do housework using their products.
Artists were for hire and Band-Aid enlisted New Yorker cartoonist R. Taylor to let people know that Band-Aid was not a generic term.
There’s something about this Stromberg – Carlosn ad that is timeless. Will your home be the best ‘dance spot’ in town?” This was 1947. I’m looking at the teens, especially the girl in the foreground doing the Elaine Bennis dance move. “Grandma did you used to be a wild teenager?”
One thing remains the same today- chocolate is still a big gift on Valentine’s day. According to Whitman’s, “A woman never forgets the man who remembered.”
American Airlines emphasizes their interest in knowing their passengers in-flight experiences. Ironically, the ad emphasizes the foundation of democracy; freedom of speech. “It’s American to be Democratic:” the ad states. “to speak your mind, in public meetings and in letters to the press, radio and to your Congressman.”
Not today. It is very dangerous to express any opinion differing from the vocal radical maniacs rewriting and eradicating its history while turning the Unites States into a third world country.
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