Wednesday, May 11, 2011

11 May 1957 “Some Commercials, Then and Now”

I thought today we could look at a Then and Now of TV advertisements.
This 57 car commercial seems to point out the good of the car. We see what it has to offer.


I haven’t any idea what I am suppose to glean about the attributes of this Dodge. The noise, fast movements and oddly out of place and time characters tell me nothing about fuel economy, longevity and other things that today’s car buyers WANT to actually know. At least, I thought they did. Maybe they just like loud sounds, car chases, and odd plot twists that end with an explosion.

It took a lot to sell a prepared meal to a 1950’s homemaker. She was the main food buyer. And while I am sure she loved a night off from cooking, it needed to represent various food groups and some semblance of portion control.

There are so many things that actually disturb me about this modern commercial, such as the over eating and bad health of it all. But what is most disturbing to me is this portrayal of  American Factories. Where is this suppose to be? Where are these factories? If this actually represented a cross section of American Industry that’d be great. If only that were the case, but sadly we have very little production left in this country. And when we did have it, the men were eating affordable meals packed by their wives, not heat ‘em up meals produced by companies that moved their manufacturing of those meals to another country. Nor would they be buying a fancy $5 a cup frothy drink from the local chain.

What I found interesting about this 1950’s Lego commercial was that one made many or anything from one’s imagination from a base set of Lego toys.

Today it seems you need to continually buy kits to put together pre-described items. What is the adventure in that? You already know what you are going to build and they are all sponsored items for other products, such as movies and such. I would have more fun with a big box of basic shapes, some doors, windows, wheels etc. and then make what you want.

Ah, coffee. The American drink. We all love it. I know the first thing I do every morning is fill that percolator and plug it in.
Here we see a classic commercial for coffee. Notice the size of the coffee cup as well.

I won't even go into all the not so subtle undertones of this Starbucks ad. But, again, heaven forbid we make our own coffee at work. Heck, why bother drinking something you made that cost pennies when you can shell out half of what you earned the hour before to buy this cup of sugar coated with more sugar? I wonder why we are an in debt and obese nation so unhealthy?

Well, I didn’t mean this to be a ‘it was better then’ post. Believe you me, I know the past had many problems, but I always thought we were IMPROVING from the day before, but as usual, I innocently start looking back and comparing and am then appalled at today. I am happy that commercials play a very little role in my life.
What modern ads make you cringe?


  1. Most of the beer commercials make me cringe. I don't ever want my sons to see them. But luckily we don't have to watch any commercials unless we go to my in-laws to watch football. We don't have cable because we couldn't afford if for awhile and when we could we just decided to get Netflix. With their instant streaming we can watch basically any show we want without any ads :)

  2. My father was a single dad (yes, back in the 50's!) and when my grandmother, who helped raise us, would go to N.Y.C. from Friday evening to Sunday evening, my father would feed us those TV dinners! He always had lasagne, I always had macaroni and cheese, and my brother always had Salisbury steak. We snapped those TV dinners up -- they were a treat!

  3. Nobody cared back then about gas mileage. I remember in the early 60's, gas was like twenty cents or even less per gallon. Who cared about gas mileage?

    And, yes, portions are huge today -- even cups of coffee. People today are very self-indulgent with Star Bucks, etc. It's a different world. WE treat ourselves well, because "we're worth it," or "we deserve it." Different mind-set.

  4. The modern car ad was actually an ad for a movie (Fast 5?) so you really weren't supposed to get anything about the car. As for the 1857 ad, if that six foot wide car handles like a sports car, I'll eat my hat!

    When did they get rid of soup in the frozen meal? I don't recall it being available when I was growing up the '70s.

    Because we don't watch broadcast television when I do see commercials I find them fascinating. They never make me want to buy things but I am constantly amazed and sometimes amused at what they are selling (attitude and what we should now conform to.) The gender stereotypes in the Hungryman were particularly horrid.)

    I do like having wheels and heads in Legos (as a concept, I don't (yet) have Legos around my home) but the pre-fab kits area downer. I think most kids will use them to make their own creations though after they've done the kit form once.

  5. I recently read a fascinating book by Stephanie Coontz called The Way We Never Were, where she pointed out that consumerism was considered to be patriotic in the 1950s, but by the 1970s, the opposite was true. I can see why spending was encouraged in the 50s. Much of the technology discovered during the war was translated into manufacturing goods. I can remember reading somewhere that the plastic that became Tupperware had been invented for use in munitions during the war. Now we're delighted to find items that were made during the 50s because of their quality. Interesting how attitudes have changed........Denise

  6. Actually I find the commercial you posted in the manufacturing sector sad the Hungryman one, probably due to the fact that my area I live in Ontario has shed 1000`s of jobs in this sector, it`s sad to see families` struggling to make ends meet and trying to earn a livable wage.

    I like the older ads because as opposed to the fast pace of today`s commercials, it shows a gentler and slower pace of life. The 50`s ads are more soothing compared to the loud music and commentary from the speaker.

    I alway`s say I should have been born 50 plus years ago, sometimes this modern age is beyond my comprehension.

    Mom in Canada

  7. Sorry, wasn't able to comment earlier. Hope this works!

    There is a commercial for a disposable bathroom hand towel that really really irritates me. It shows a regular white cloth hand towel hanging in a powder room, and it gets increasingly filthy as people use it. Then they show a powder room with their disposable towels and how each one is crisp and clean as you pull it off the stack.

    I shudder to think of yet another disposable product on the market only to end up in the landfills. I also am offended to watch it as a homemaker- are we really that incompetent and lazy as a society that changing out and washing a bathroom hand towel is beyond our capability?? Or maybe the company just wants us to think we're that incompetent.

    I wonder if people who were homemakers when disposable paper towels, napkins, cups, etc. were introduced were offended in the same way to see these products, or were they excited?

    I guess I'm just so tired of advertising and companies telling me "It's too hard to do this yourself. You're too busy to do it yourself. Why bother thinking and doing, just let us do it for you." I know full well that it's "just" a hand towel, but I really do get offended when I watch that commercial.

    We started using cloth diapers for our baby when she was a month old. And EVERYBODY (especially the previous generation) said there was no way we would stick with it, it was going to be way too hard to keep up with it, that I wasn't going to have time to do it and that I would give up. Well...7 months later and we're still going strong. In fact, we've also switched to cloth napkins and cloth cleaning rags. I also use homemade cleaning solutions. And every new thing I add is a pleasant surprise at how simple it all can really be. I am a little resentful at how much the corporate world manipulates and tricks the public into thinking that we're too dumb, too busy, that all of this is too hard and if we just buy their product, life will be magically easy.

    I'm not sure if you remember me, but I was the person who holds the "mock Thanksgiving" dinner with my husband before the actual Thanksgiving dinner with the whole family. It gives us time to be together as our little family and to help me practice the Thanksgiving recipes. I remember how shocked I was at making gravy for the first time- it seriously couldn't have been easier. Now I just laugh at the big displays around any of the holidays touting the "full meal that you need to please the family", all arranged in little congealed jars and cardboard boxes.

    There was an article in one of my baby magazines last month about how more and more women are choosing to stay home, and how it's increasingly becoming a trend for them to look to their grandmothers for inspiration instead of their moms. That was just one little line in the article but it really rang true for me. I think that this is a perfect chance for our generation to stop the insanity and to start embracing our intelligence and our role as mothers/homemakers as a legitimate occupation. And turning off commercials like the disposable hand towels one is a good place to start :-)

  8. Sarah-I am just seeing your comment. I love such comments.

    Isn't it true about advertising. And I had to laugh at the gravy comment, for I too felt that way! So many of the things I learned during that 1955 year were often, "Really? That's it?" to making homemade. Now, when I shop I just see all this packaging and expense being sold as 'cheap and convenient' when it is MORE convenient to have a few staples around and then make things from them.

    Yes, I do remember you and your talking about your 'mock' thanksgiving. That is a very good idea, actually, one others may want to copy.

    It is sad that the generations that hold the actual knowledge are all almost gone. Perhaps now that we new generation of Homemakers are many of us bloggers, we can continue to document and record our trials and tribulations and our success for future generations. Of course, and I always wonder about this, all of our information is digital, it could all be wiped out permanently so easily! Another odd element of modern life.


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