5 Retro Commercials Companies Would Like You to Forget

Though social attitudes may change with time, videotape never does. Here are five examples of embarrassing advertising that companies no doubt wish had become dust in the wind. Come with us on a magical adventure of sexism, racism and fun!


Mattel Dick Tracy Tommy Burst (1961)

We hesitate to show this ad, as it will only highlight how lame your toys were as compared to those of the '60s. Watch as this kid pulls out his "toy" Dick Tracy revolver and actually kills some fool:

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So What's the Problem?

As you see in the ad, kids needed toys like that because they had to get jobs as detectives as early as age eight.

While the guns might have been far cooler looking and way more realistic than today's orange-capped plastic knockoffs, they also had the unfortunate side effect of getting the owner shot occasionally by trigger-happy police officers.

Also when you consider the YouTube comments:

... you have to think we're probably better off than them.

Jello Brand Gelatin (1959)

Like a successful kamikaze pilot, something tells us that this wouldn't fly today. Perhaps it's the condescending narrator who frets for the "poor Chinese baby," or the way he lists the flavors as "olange" and "glape."

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So What's the Problem?

Young and Rubicam, this commercial's creators and one of the largest advertising agencies in the United States, are the masterminds behind yet another well-known and beloved cartoon character: Joe Camel.

This is the same company that would come back decades later and put Bill Cosby at the forefront of their ad campaign, though whether or not that was a step forward or back in racial attitudes is unclear.

Folgers Coffee (1963)

Quite simply, a man makes a veiled threat to leave his wife for one of "the girls at the office" over the quality of her coffee-making skills. She switches to Folgers, and he agrees to have sex with her. We're not kidding.

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So What's the Problem?

If you never understood that whole feminist movement, that ad should provide a little context. "That's pretty harsh!" "Well, so's your coffee."

Folgers went national as a brand in 1963, and immediately launched a series of ads targeted toward women who feared they were not living up to their role as effective servants to their male superiors. It looks unforgivable in retrospect, but then again, if you compare it to the industry's ad campaigns of the '50s...

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Armstrong Vinyl Asbestos Floors (1965)

Sure, we all love to dance in our active rooms. And who doesn't love the spongy feel of a nice big room-sized chunk of asbestos?

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So What's the Problem?

Unfortunately, cutting the rug on this floor might also mean cutting the inside of your lungs with thousands of Armstrong-brand asbestos fibers. You'd probably be better off licking the Glidden-brand lead paint off of your active room's walls.

In 2002, Armstrong World Industries, Inc. faced over $852 million dollars in lawsuits from pissed-off homeowners, who came to the realization that maybe it wasn't just jazz and sweet Chesterfields that gave them mesothelioma in the '60s. In the end, Armstrong was forced to dish out over $2.5 billion and those swinging dance floors had to be scraped up by work crews wearing breathing apparatuses.

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Winston Cigarettes (1962)

For marketing cigarettes directly to kids, Joe Camel's got nothing on Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.

So What's the Problem?

They might be lazy, incompetent and use tree bark as toilet paper, but they sure know a smooth, rich Winston when they see one. Commercials like these helped millions of baby-boomers make the right choice when it came to their future cigarette preferences. Yabba-dabba-do!

So one hand you could say Winston won in the short term, earning billions off their addictive, life-shortening product. On the other hand, at least kids aren't exposed to smoking in popular media anymore.

OK, never mind.

For some more up to date corporate idiocy take a stroll through the most meaningless corporate slogans. Or check out what happens when one of those creepy anti-Scientology videos from Anonymous goes horribly wrong.

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