Exploring The Weird Vintage Ads Of Yesteryears: 31 Strange Retro Ads

Luckily, we’re worlds away from the following weird vintage ads – for the most part of it – which makes them even harder to digest. From laughing to feeling a tad uncomfortable, you will go through a lot of moods, just like we did.

1. Depression Cure

weird vintage ads: depression cure

We don’t even know where to begin with this one… It’s bad enough to Ignore the fact that they decided to call depression “flu hangover”, to cure it with wine is 50 shades worse. Phosperine Tonic Wine has three ingredients: diluted phosphoric acid, alcohol, and quinine, which cost just half a penny while the bottle sold for two shillings and nine pence, so basically a huge ripoff.

2.  Stupid Christmas Gift

weird vintage ads: Hoover

The lesson here is simple: don’t buy your partner an appliance, no matter how fancy or useful it may be, unless you’re absolutely positive this is what she wants. Also, the sexism in this ad is rampant!

3. Foolproof Mosquito Solution

weird vintage ads: Mosquito solution

If you’re one of those people that feel like walking mosquito magnets, perhaps you understand the conundrum here. It’s hard enjoying a restful sleep if you have mosquitos giving you rounds every couple of minutes. But to get from having a mosquito problem to sleeping with a net on your head is quite a stretch. Also, what about your body? Sleep in a trash bag?

4. The Dress That Didn’t Deliver

Sack dress

This feels like a follow up from the Hoover ad. We’ve very curious if the dress had that exact print or if they went with the natural potato sack color and texture.

5. Barely There Headphones

weird vintage ads: hear Muffs
This ad suggests ditching your old, clunky headphones in favor of these monstrosities. Bad product aside, the copywriting and branding are off as well. Who even thought Hear Muffs is the right name for these!

6. Ben-Gay For Pain Relief

weird vintage ads: Ben-Gay for head colds
Another goldie! Peter Pain is the archvillain that was present in Ben-Gay’s marketing campaigns from 1942 to 1965. He was the one that caused headaches, rheumatism, muscular strains etc. So yeah, rub some Ben-Gay if you wanna keep Peter Pain at bay.

7. The Tie That Will Fix Dating Problems

weird vintage ads: rising tie

Somehow being single and needing a tie that could do a magic trick worked hand in hand for this advertiser. We’re not sure this is the best way to start a solid relationship.

8. Cellophane For All Of Life’s Problems

cellophane weird ad
There’s a whole series on Cellophane vintage ads, each one crazier than the next. While now we’re dealing with single use plastic and pollution even in the remotest islands – among other issues, in the 40’s Du Pont had one purpose: to wrap the whole world in cellophane.

9. From Duds To Studs

Duds to studs ad

And yes, that’s Nick Nolte. He used to model quite a lot in the 1960s and early 1970s. The eyes, the body posture, the overall styling, these really seem to be “jeans that turn a dude into a stud.”

10. Cigarettes From Santa

Camel vintage ad

The tobacco industry is known for finding ways to push its products and this is just one of them. A fun, joyful rosy-cheek Santa that is happy to give you your xmas present, a pack of Camel cigarettes appropriately ‘dressed’ for the holiday.

11. Cola, The Wonder Medicine

Cola medicine ad
Speaking of pushing your product onto whatever target market you’ve drafted, you have this ad. It draws onto the many pluses your child could benefit from if he starts drinking Coca Cola as a baby: essential sugars, an active lifestyle and a cool personality.

12. Mustache Trainer For The Manly Guy

funny vintage ads mustache trainer jpg
The product you have no idea you needed! Mustaches have an insane upkeep but to take it as far as patenting a solution for it, a solution that involves wearing a mesh for up to 15 minutes is somewhat of a stretch.

13. Beauty Pageants And Beef = LOVE

Nebraska beef ad

Whoever thought of using Miss Nebraska in an ad for Nebraska beef either had a stroke of genius or ate something bad for breakfast. This is hard to stomach: her awkwardness, pairing a beauty contest with beef, her outfit.

14. Butter Up

weird vintage ads: butter ad

‘Butter, good and good for you’. Oh, boy! So much to unpack here! Selling butter as a way to power up your circulatory system is a bold marketing move for sure!

15. There’s No Words For This

Celery is very good for your colon
Let’s unpack this one real quick. Someone came with the copywriting. A team provided the graphics. And we’re sure they had a ton of fun, there’s no way of coming up with this ad without dropping a few LOLs.

16. So Safe Even A Baby Could Use Them

Gillette weird vintage ad

A weird vintage ad that is sure to remain etched into your brain. We can see where they wanted to go with this one but boy, they really pushed the norms!

17. Quite The Buying Incentive

vintage ads drummond jpeg
This plays a different card when it comes to advertising your product by ‘forcing’ men to buy Drummond sweaters so they can enjoy seeing women in this kind of ads.

18. Brawl Denim

Brawl Denim vintage ad
You never know when you find yourself in a weird situation where being able to do a full leg kick is mandatory. Century jeans to the rescue, they make throwing punches and leg kicks a breeze.

19. Protect The Beer At All Costs

vintage ads beer jpg

A mix of weird and funny, this ad is one of our faves! For once the husband doesn’t have a pouty and oh so serious face like he tends to have in a lot of these vintage ads. There’s a hint of a positive vibe as well. Having the beers on a plate is kinda weird, though.

20. Lipsticks Or Desserts?

vintage ads new yardley jpg

‘So kiss him in his favorite flavor. Watch him come back for more’. What now?! And then there’s the tagline, making the most of what you have.

21. Buying A Hair Dryer Just Because

Hair Dryer
The guys from Panasonic really wanted to sell this hair dryer. Bald or not, it doesn’t matter. Use it to dry your nails. Or the paint on the walls. Or the dog. It doesn’t matter. Just buy it, you’ll figure it out later.

22. The Tonic That Will Pork Up Anyone

Grove's Chill Tonic ad
While this one was a very effective product, the marketing was downright ridiculous and unsettling.

23. The Eyes, Chico, They Never Lie

Flatlux ad
The eyes, chico, they never lie! Poor woman looks absolutely terrified! Did she not pick the right color? Is she afraid of what remodeling a room implies?

24. Way Too Much Excitement For A Veggie Juice

vintage ads v8 jpg

From a set of crazy eyes to another, we have this woman that is desperate to keep her family healthy and thriving. Not only that, but the kiddo seems to be following her vibe, no kid is THAT happy to get his daily dose of greens.

25. Pants With An XL Snack Pack

vintage ads action pants jpg
Funny pants strike again! This time the copywriting blew it right out of the water by calling the zipper area “action zone” #boldmove However, what is the meaning of “snack pack”?

26. DIY Tan

weird vintage ads: DIY tanning

Because apparently men like tanned skin better than alabaster one. Poor girl seems to be way too upset for that man’s glimpse.

27. Hot Sauna Pants

vintage ads sauna panzts jpg
Sauna Hot Pants aka how to lose weight while feeling uncomfortable and looking the part. We’re still not sure how this even got a patent, who was buying these pants?

28. Einstein’s Mentos

vintage ads mentos jpg

We’ve seen Einstein endorsing a lot of products but very few people knew he called advertising a “corruption of our time.” The Mentos team decided to show us otherwise by pushing their product as a brain stimulant, a maven for creative ideas.

29. Ahem, This Is … Weird At Best

vintage ads steview wonder

The kind of ad that makes you spill your coffee. Of all the products Stevie Wonder could be the image of, from perfume to food and even bath bombs, products he could actually experience, he went with a gaming console that he has no idea of.

30. Vaseline A Diet Staple

vintage ads vaseline
Why would you, though? ‘Good for you, good for the environment’ could be one. But no, they actually implied eating a tub of vaseline because you will suffer zero consequences.

31. Making Brushing Fun

vintage ads tooth paste jpg
After having one glass too many, people tend to brush their teeth to get some of the gunk out. These guys suggest otherwise, adding some extra whisky in the mix just for the sake of it.

We’re now bombarded with ads while we’re on our phones, while we watch TV, while we drive to work, it’s everywhere. These weird vintage ads prove that advertising has come a long way and at least we’re happy we get to experience better ads.

Recommended reading next: Weirdest crimes ever


What is the world’s oldest advert?

July 1, 1941, Bulova Watches. Lasted 10 seconds during a game between the PA Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers.

What is the longest TV ad?

The longest TV ad is… hold onto your hats… 14 hours! 14 hours of Old Spice as the ad is for that product.

Where can I find old ads?

Besides our site 🙂 you can start here.

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