Sex advertising history

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New York City, and the controversy surrounding it, contributing writer Josh Smith looks into the history of sex in advertising. Later that day, the public outcry broke to major news outlets. Had I been witness to a newsworthy event? Was everyone suddenly realizing there is sex in media?

Was broadcasting photos of it all across the nation the best way to curb this trend and keep it away from tender, innocent, young eyes? Did they think this attention would keep it from happening again? Perhaps I’m cynical, but the reaction seemed a bit overblown to me. All of it got me a bit curious about the whole notion of sex in advertising. Hadn’t we seen this a zillion times before? Have we arrived on some hedonistic time and not noticed, or have we always been confronted with ads that pushed our sexual buttons? We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today.

I don’t think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you’re hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time. Witness this Ivory Soap ad from the 1910’s in which a bunch of naked sailors get lathered up in the bath together while their friend hoses them off. Try putting a picture of that in an ad these days. It certainly seemed like home to rub in the mild Ivory lather from head to foot and then feel the delightful exhilaration following a brisk rub down.

You need only buy it once and your wife will be moved to show her ‘thanks’ three times a day! I wonder if there was a money-back guarantee on that product benefit? This Tiparillo ad campaign of 1967 goes down as some of the most overt copywriting I’ve seen anywhere, anytime. After a tough evening with the Beethoven crowd, she loves to relax an listen to her folk-rock records.