Vintage Holiday Advertising

retro xmas
Lindi Koprivnikar - Art DirectorWritten by: Lindi KoprivnikarArt Director

As we step into 2016, let’s reflect back on how holiday advertising has drastically changed over the last century.

#1. This 1906 ad was for real guns. I mean, gently laying a rifle next to an unsuspecting sleeping child seems pretty normal, right? Keep in mind these rifles were for boys only. Girls with guns in 1906?! Those silly lasses couldn't even vote yet!

guns for kids


#2. Listen up WIVES. Stop asking for things you want like a normal human and start crying for things you need, like a toaster or a cheese grater.

good idea


#3. All I want for Christmas is to not be pale. Is that too much to ask? Apparently, getting a tan really brings out a man's inner serial killer face.

that tan betch


#4. Either this is "The Most Interesting Man in the World", or it's Burt Reynolds. Either way, if you're not getting cigars for Christmas, you're probably a total loser.

most interesting man


#5. It seems super weird to secretly put a miniature ANYthing into anyone's pocket. Sure, let me just subtly slide this tiny scale model of a vacuum cleaner into your pocket. Real casual-like.

put it in yer pocket


#6. Back in the 40s and 50s, big tobacco  orchestrated a conspiracy to salvage cigarette sales, so there was a massive push for cigarette advertisements. And it worked. "As late as 1960 only one-third of all US doctors believed that the case against cigarettes had been established."  

Give the gift of lung cancer.

hurray cigarettes


#7. I mean, at least they're showing that Mrs. Claus got letters as well. Too bad they're all from a bunch of women who just want corn-cob-shaped ironing tables.

corn cob table


#8. I'm not gonna lie. This ad makes me sort of uncomfortable. "So soft it caresses you." And why is a grown man playing with a train set?  

this is weird


#9.  Wait, wasn't Santa supposed to be delivering gifts to children? What're you doin' there, Santa? Tsk.

santa was a dirtball


#10. "Merry Christmas. Lose weight. Ya filthy animal"

lose weight


#11. Ok, I seriously don't know what's happening here. Why is he kissing her eyeball? Why are there spoons flying through the air? Was that woman there against her will? Did they decorate the tree with silverware? We'll never know.

what is happening


#12. I know when I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a disembodied head. Well in 1970, 3M made dreams come true. I had to do a bit of research to figure out what the heck was going on here, but apparently this tape was, and still is,  used to set hair styles.

heads will roll


#13. We saved the worst for last. Don't do it Santa! Don't...take your own life over the stack of orders for Arrow shirts? WHAT IS HAPPENING in this 1947 ad?! Actually, what's really disturbing is how he's going about it. A pistol? Nah. Let's go for a super old flintlock  rifle and use our toe to pull the trigger since it'd be tricky to reach otherwise.

santa noooo


Things have come a long way in advertising. And in the world in general. And we're happy it did. Now we just Photoshop the bejesus  out of everything.

Happy Holidays!