These Vintage Ads Will Have You Laughing About How Things Were Sold Back Then

Cashing in on a star's cachet.

1949

Reminisce Extra MagazineCharles Laughton had won his only Academy Award back in 1934, but he was enjoying a career resurgence in the late 1940s, with prominent character roles in The Big Clock (1948), The Bribe and The Man on the Eiffel Tower (both 1949). With his posh English accent and theatrical demeanor, Laughton wasn’t an obvious fit for the Pabst brand, but that seems to be the point. “Our beer is so good,” the ad is saying, “even this fancy British guy drinks it.”

1957

Reminisce Extra MagazineThe ad never identifies Bob Hope, referring only to “this man,” but in 1957, there was no mistaking him. Perhaps America’s best-known comedian, Hope was a fixture on TV at the time. Parker likely paid top dollar for his endorsement. No wonder it had to charge $20 (about $172 today) for its Capillary Pen.

1953

Reminisce Extra MagazineI Love Lucy was No. 1 in the ratings in four of its six seasons, and show sponsor Philip Morris saw its stock rise right along with it. Lucille Ball’s striking red hair and blue eyes pop off the page here—a shock, most likely, to anyone used to seeing the star in black and white on a tiny TV screen.

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