Historic adverts reveal changing moral standards

A series of adverts drawn from Britain and America from Victorian time’s right up to the 1970s have been used to illustrate the changing standards of society.

Ranging from sexist, to unhealthy to simply unethical the ads lift a lid on some of the lax standards of morality followed by the public at the time.

These include an advert by the Soda Pop Board of America extholling parents to wean their children on fizzy juice, stating: “For a better start in life, start Cola earlier!”

The ad explains: “How soon is too soon? Not soon enough. Laboratory tests over the last few years have proven that babies who start drinking soda during the early formative period have a much higher chance of gaining acceptance and ‘fitting in’ during the awkward teen and pre-teen years.”

Another early seventies ad for the Tiaplet cigarette brand targets smokers, confidently declaring: “Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere.”

A sexist advert for Drummond Sweaters published in Esquire magazine in 1959 meanwhile proclaims: “Men are better than women!” Backing up its assertion in the small print with: “Indoors, women are useful – even pleasant. On a mountain they are something of a drag.”

Even these faux pas pale in comparison to an late nineteenth century advert for Cocaine Toothache drops however, the highly addictive drug was legal in the US right up until 1914.

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John Glenday

John Glenday is responsible for compiling The Drum's daily morning bulletin and ensuring that overnight breaking news is covered while you're still brushing your teeth. Can also make a mean cup of tea.

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