5 Vintage Ads Ripped Directly From Your Nightmares (Part 2)

When the aliens, robots, or sentient bacteria finally take over and start sifting through the rubble of the scorched trashball that was Earth, they're going to eventually come to the conclusion that our destruction was a mercy killing. Why? Because the Charmin bears have shoved their poop-stained asses in our faces for years and we haven't attacked their corporate headquarters with pitchforks yet.


What's really crazy is that the Charmin Bear campaign is only the latest in advertisers' ongoing war on our sanity.

#5. Elsie the Borden Cow Was Trapped in a Domestic Nightmare


Most of us are familiar with the concept of the uncanny valley -- the point where robots are just realistic enough to elicit repulsion from real humans. As far as I'm concerned, we don't need a robot revolution to hit that wall -- all we have to do is reacquaint ourselves with Elsie the Borden Cow and her insane bipedal family. During the mid-20th century, consumers didn't just get the vapid, bodiless smile of the Borden mascot that you're probably familiar with.

She seems a little too happy for someone whose neck ends with a floral arrangement.

No, they got Elsie's whole family. All five members, each more unnaturally bovine than the last. The idea was to sell milk with a regular all-American family who provided the milk from their own teats. Except the boys, obviously. It just so happened that this family lived under the constant cloud of their father's unquenchable anger.

The original inspiration for the movie Raging Bull.

With every ad you got the sense that you were looking at a scene 10 minutes before the cops and assigned social worker get their nightly call for an intervention. Elmer the Bull's muscles are always tensed for a backhand, and Elsie carries herself with the placating ease of a woman who is afraid of getting hit at any second. And the crazy part? It must have worked. Borden stuck with this PSA of an ad campaign for years.

Got domestic violence?

#4. 7-Up Was Constantly Thwarted by Human Faces


Look, I get that advertising is a tricky business. But how hard is it to get pretty humans to guzzle effervescent sugar water for money? I may not be "spokesmodel material" myself, but I certainly know what "drinking" like a "human" looks like, and this isn't it.

It would help if we could see his tiny invisible straw.

Apparently, 7-Up went through an achingly long stretch when the very act of drinking was a mystery yet to be solved. Do people enjoy beverages through their eye holes or cheekbones? According to this 7-Up ad, maaaaaybe?

Good lord, he thinks it's a flower.

Do you like to picture old men on the verge of fellating a soda bottle? NEITHER DO I BUT HERE WE ARE.

Don't you wish I didn't bring up the fact that he's also softly humming and pantsless?

The best part? 7-Up actually used one ad to capture what it looks like to view an old-timey 7-Up ad. Look at the guy's expression:

I agree.

#3. Maxwell House Took a Weird Premise Too Far


You know you're looking at a bizarre campaign when its backstory takes five minutes to explain. The Maxwell House ad above happens to fall into that category. I could go through the whole thing: how Maxwell House used actors from the popular Broadway hit Showboat to shill their wares, how sometimes that meant using white actors in blackface, and ... never mind. That about covers it.


As horrific and unfunny as minstrelsy is, at least we have a little background to understand why Maxwell House used blackface characters to sell their coffee. What we don't get background on is why an old man clearly on the cusp of dementia is captaining a large boat. Or why the subject of coffee requires the seriousness of a man explaining brain cancer.

Nor does the fact that this is an actor playing a specific character explain the dialogue "Coffee is like a friend, Tiny," which is something you'd expect to hear on the last day of your life in prison. We can only hope the other guy's character is Tiny. For all we know, it's Mike, and this is just one more way we know Captain Alzheimer is losing it. Look at the other guy's face. This is the exact moment when he realized he should have researched maritime law and riverboat murder.

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Kristi Harrison

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