And what is with these ads being weirdly obsessed with flies? How did that ad meeting play out? One executive all, "But isn't temperature-related milk spoiling more relevant?" and getting pelted to death with Thermoses by the crazed anti-fly faction? Would have made for a hell of a Mad Men episode.
Listerine's Ads Were Designed To Make You Feel Like You'd Be Forever Alone
We all know bad breath is a disaster, capable of ruining dates, interviews, and treaty negotiations. And if you didn't know, you could always check out this series of ads from Listerine, which pretty categorically state that not only do you almost certainly have bad breath, but you will also end up alone and unloved because of it.
"Good news! It's not your personality at all!"
Listerine made a ton of these ads, and their impact was huge. Have you heard the expression "always a bridesmaid, but never the bride"? Guess how that entered the popular culture? Fucking Listerine, that's how!
"Also maybe ease off on the onion sandwiches, Gretel."
Men didn't get off entirely, either. According to Listerine, they could and would definitely be fired over their breath. Oh, and check out this one. Even when the ads take on a more positive tone, they have a knife hidden within them.
"Is your marriage on the rocks? It's your fault, stinky."
The kicker, as we've discussed before, is that Listerine damn near invented the term "halitosis" to use in these ads, leaning heavily on the implication that their product wasn't any old mouth soap, but was curing a medical condition. This tactic was so successful that it influenced the entire ad industry, instigating a new wave of fear-based advertising using what was eventually called the "halitosis appeal."
Oh! There's a second kicker! Listerine may well be bullshit and not cure bad breath! So if you were trying to save your marriage with it, that might not work. Sorry. Maybe try some flowers, or light bondage, or even a vagina wipe instead.
Nimby Smith has a Twitter, and, if any Hollywood agents are reading this, several scripts. And even if they aren't.
Also check out 5 Ridiculously Offensive Ads That Somehow Got Approved and 13 Wildly Irresponsible Vintage Ads Aimed At Kids.
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