50th: Fun with Advertisements — Sex, Stars and Cartoons Sell

September 1971—Sometimes you like advertisements that don’t make you think. Exposure and bare skin are fairly easy to put together in one’s mind, and the anticipation of, uh, decreasing coverage...let’s just say it’s an attention getter and leave it at that. But we feel shame. This ad debuted the same year as the Helen Reddy empowerment anthem, “I Am Woman.” Change is always slow to come.

January 1972—Basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain loaned his reputation to Brown Manufacturing to advertise its Ultra-Lite 5000 platemaker. In hindsight, the real money-making item in this ad is a throwaway/freebie in the bottom left inset. Yep, “As an added plus for finding out more about the Brown Ultra-Lite 5000, write on your letterhead for Wilt’s All-Pro NBA Personal Executive Telephone/Address Directory.” For those of you not yet snickering, Chamberlain claimed in a tell-all book that he had, ahem, made the acquaintance of more than 10,000 fans. That would make for one hulking telephone/address directory.

October 1977—It’s not uncommon for advertisers to emulate pop icon figures for their own benefit—and 1977 was certainly no exception. Here we have an ad for the Philip A. Hunt Chemical Corp. that’s touting the virtues of three processing chemistries. But you can’t hawk chemicals without the Hunt Super Squad: Three breathtaking beauties that bear a stark resemblance to Charlie’s Angels, a staple of 1977 television. That a free pump is being offered with the order of any drum of product shall go unremarked.

January 1978—Mead Paper put together a series of inserts centered around the fictional character of Fogarty the Printshop Manager. And yes, for those of us with vivid memories of the 1970s, that’s Jonathan Winters in the role of Fogarty. At the time he was between gigs on Hollywood Squares and Mork & Mindy.

January 1962—OK, so we know that sex sells; that revelation won’t make anyone choke on their Sanka. But it’s always fascinating to see advertisements that are sexually charged, without a link or segue from the response elicitor and the actual product. Take our pals here from Herbert Products, quite possibly Westbury, NY’s leading producer of static eliminating solutions. See the scrumptious blonde doing her little number while wearing an even littler number? I guess the “Performance Guaranteed” tagline applies to both her and the static eliminators. Money back if not delighted?

December 1962—History has proven time and again that those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. The accompanying chuckler isn’t all that funny when you consider that we’ve been undercutting each other for decades. And still we haven’t learned that commodity pricing has diminished our product in the eyes of customers, relegating it to off-the-shelf status. That this panel could easily apply to 2008 as it did to 1962 is noteworthy. Technically, it’s not an ad, but as the recession shakes our industry’s tree and the browning apples fall to the ground, perhaps it’s a reminder that the circle of life continues.

October 1977—Harry Hickey, the printing industry’s renown profit robber, looks more like an angry splash of whiteout than a hickey. Actually, he’s sort of reminiscent of Grog from the old Johnny Hart comic strip, B.C. That, or a ball of nuclear energy headed for a meltdown. Boy, is he angry.

January 1988—Paper companies didn’t corner the market on celebrity endorsements. Actor Patrick Macnee, known for his role as John Steed in the 1960s spy series The Avengers, donned his trademark bolar hat and cane for Autotype U.S.A. ads promoting masking film. A caption to the ad says that Macnee, “hands over the answer to cover ups.” Now there’s a campaign that makes sense.

November 1977—As you can see, 1977 was a good year for creative advertising. “The Man from Douthitt,” a super hero-type caped crusader, extolled the virtues of his company’s platemaking superiority. He looks a bit like Moe Howard of Three Stooges fame, and apparently someone’s made off with his neck. The head just sits up there, atop the cape, like it’s sitting on a shelf.

July 1977—Sure the ad is in black-and-white, and the font looks like it was taken off the front door of Studio 54. But, as you can see, Graph Expo still follows the same selling points. It promises more booths, more equipment and more square footage than you’ll see anywhere else in the Americas. Despite a flood of competing shows both home and abroad, demo center open houses that target specific customers and vendors that have cut back on the size of their exhibits, Chicago remains the place to go when it’s time to shop for new gear.