Thursday, December 30, 2010

Things go better with Santa

Recognize this jolly gent?

If so, you can thank (in part) the Coca-Cola company, whose 1930s holiday ads illustrated by Haddon Sundblom helped popularize the image of Santa as a rotund, ruddy elf dressed in red from head to toe.

Thanks for your visits in 2010. The deconstructing will continue in 2011. Happy New Year!

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Koss, the Owl & the Pussycat

What's going on in this 1971 ad from Koss? Is it a couple of middle-agers dabbling in the '60s sexual revolution, and ending up indulging other passions instead (his, high-brow music, hers low-brow TV and bon-bons)?

"No two people really enjoy all the same things," the ad begins. "What turns one on may very well turn the other off." And so we get that staple of the '60s movie and TV relationships, the sexed-up woman and the oblivious man.

The innuendo aside, it's an interesting choice for portraying domestic differences. Assuming it even is a domestic scene. Who's to say it isn't some misguided post-coital scene of a, shall we say, more professional transaction?

It's up the reader to decide, but I'm pretty sure the ad creators were inspired by this hit movie from the year before:

"The Owl and the Pussycat" was based on a Broadway play (and not the 1871 children's poem by Edward Lear) and adapted to a film starring George Segal as an intellectual writer (the "owl") who gets involved with the coarse actress/part-time hooker next door. Though the play presented it as an inter-racial romance, in the transformation to film, it became more of a mainstream "odd couple" romantic comedy -- at least as mainstream as a film with a comedically foul-mouthed prostitute as a romantic lead could be.

Incidentally, I owe making this connection to Mad Magazine, whose movie satires in the 1970s gave me some awareness of the movies that I was much too young to see. In fact, I still remember one of the gags in the September 1971 parody, "The Foul and the Prissy Cat." It showed Barbra Streisand's expletive-spouting character modeling that racy lingerie before George Segal...

...and Segal's character stammering, "I...I think the hands are in the wrong place. They should be covering your mouth!"

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Off by 30+ years (but who's counting?)

Automatic highways. Computerized kitchens. Person to person television. Food from under the sea. And all in just ten years! Or not.

We're getting closer to the realities predicted in this 1969 ad -- some 30 years behind schedule -- but we're still not all the way there yet.

(click for a better view of the future we're still waiting for)

Check back in another decade or so.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Nice legs...but whose?

I haven't seen this recent movie, but based on the poster, I'm thinking that the "other drugs" must be steroids of some type.

I mean, take a closer look at Anne Hathaway's legs. One of them is not only much beefier, but she's apparently ran out of shaving cream after doing only one leg:

Yes, yes, I know, there's Ms. Hathaway's right leg neatly tucked beneath her. But I'm not kidding when I say that every time I see this poster, I do a double-take.

Perhaps the disrupting imagery is every bit as intentional as it was in this ad from 1977:

(And yes, that's exactly who you think it is...)

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Friday, December 10, 2010

AH and the LBD

A bit of wishful thinking -- or perhaps desperate wishing -- in this 1962 ad from this acrylic fiber maker:

"What ever become of the little black dress?" the headline muses, apparently unaware that it never really went out of style.

The so-called little black dress (also known as LBD), whose simple elegance enables it to be accessorized for both day wear and evening wear, has been a woman's wardrobe essential since it was first popularized in 1926 by Coco Chanel in the pages of Vogue magazine. Its ubiquity continued through the years of the Great Depression and even World War II, and was given new life in the 1960s, most notably by Audrey Hepburn's wearing of the LBD in "Breakfast At Tiffany's"...

...a film which, probably not coincidentally, was released the year before the ad above.

Makes you wonder why, if the manufacturer's goal is to expand the acceptance of acrylic fiber, the ad chose to position itself against the little black dress instead of leveraging its popularity to get women to try it in washable acrylic -- although if you read into the copy, it eventually, and grudgingly, mentions you can get the dresses in black, too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Revlon goes barbaric

Maybe it's just me, but I when I look at this 1969 Revlon ad -- with its apocalyptic sky, blasted landscape and the woman's vaguely futuristic barbarian getup -- I can't help thinking this:

That's Barbarella, the Jane Fonda sexploitation movie that came out the year before.

Though it was as critical and box office flop, it seems plausible that, given the need to draw attention to Revlon's "action-now" skincare product, the ad designers would turn to cinematic images of "action heroines" -- though, frankly, the culture at the time didn't offer all that much choose from. It was either Jane Fonda in a space bikini...

...or maybe Raquel Welch in a fur bikini, circa 1966:

Am I hallucinating? Do a side-by-side comparison and you decide:

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The moon shot heard round the 'world...

What's the thinking behind this fanciful ad for True Temper golf clubs? Is it the allure of the moon, pock-marked with craters, as a kind of ready-made planetary golf course?

In the second column, the copy makes a more grounded connection:
...the True Temper aluminum shafts, used by the leading club makers, are fabricated of an aluminum alloy recently developed for aviation and aerospace projects.
But wait. Did I call this ad fanciful? Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard, walking on the moon, actually did swing a club at two golf balls. Talking by radio to NASA at the time, Shepard said, "you might recognize what I have in my hand as the handle for the contingency sample return; it just so happens to have a genuine six iron on the bottom of it ... Unfortunately, the suit is so stiff, I can't do this with two hands, but I'm going to try a little sand-trap shot here."

Though he initially said that the second shot went "miles and miles and miles" in the moon's lower gravity (who was there to check?), it apparently was really in the 200 to 400 yard range.

And you think you have trouble getting a tee time.

Interestingly, if you think it was the event that inspired the ad, think again: Shepard took his "moon shot" in 1971; True Temper's ad ran in 1969.

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