Advertising Expiration: Obedient Wives, Smoking Doctors and Babies in Danger

Advertising—and marketing in general really—is all about a moment in time. It’s based on a specific audience, an identified need, and commonly-held perceptions. The relevance of advertising comes from its timeliness.

But that timeliness is also what can make ads seem hopelessly outdated when viewed from a distance of years or even decades.

Unleashing the Ghosts of Advertising Past

We recently came across this great post on All That Is Interesting titled “35 Bizarre (And Offensive) Vintage Ads“. It’s a great example of how societal norms change over time and advertising becomes a wacky relic of the past.

This post includes dozens of ads from decades past that were perfectly reasonable at the time—and maybe even highly-effective. But now the perceptions these ads play on seem completely cringe-inducing.

Six Examples of Utterly Outdated Advertising

Here are some examples of insanely outdated ads taken from the All That Is Interesting post. They include:

Ads that place women in the kitchen, where she should aim to please her husband…





Ads that treat smoking as sexy and beneficial (see how any person reacts if you blow smoke in their face today)…





Ads that show babies in some unhealthy and downright dangerous situations…





The Takeaway: Advertising Is Built To Expire

Are they ads above: Offensive? Remarkably. Hilarious? Unquestionably. But more than anything they’re a product of their time. And that’s nearly unavoidable in advertising, where your speaking to audiences firmly planted in the now.

Looking back on this recent ad from Fiat in 50 years, what do you think people will think? A quintessential product of 2014 or a timeless piece of marketing?