This story is a part of our Mad Men Takeover. Season four of the series premieres on AMC this Sunday, July 25.
Good advertisers don’t just sell products, they sell a desire—a false sense of necessity—for a product. Great advertisers do this, too, but their scope is even greater; they sell lifestyles and ideas. In our search for real print advertisements from the 1960s, when Mad Men’s Don Draper was selling, we found examples of every level of advertising skill.
All of the ads are interesting—the concept of chicken-flavored candy or Scotch-tinged toothpaste is difficult to grasp about 50 years after these products went off the market—but it’s the advertisements with fine print that has at least as much of an impact as the bigger, eye-catching image, that are most compelling. Regardless of what product is front and center, many of these ads peddle masculinity, even sexism. Along with cigarettes, Pall Mall sells the ideas that intelligent-looking girls are only trying to prove something to themselves and “if a girl is watchable, she should be watched, no matter what her motives or ambitions may be.” Broomsticks tells men that they should “take off our pants and go home” if they aren’t they aren’t in it to win a game that is half “Ring around Rosie. Or Carol. Or Eleanor, etc.,” half tug-of-war.
Make yourself a nice sandwich (on Wonder Bread, of course) and a glass of hot Dr. Pepper and scroll through some advertisements from the Mad Men era.