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Forgotten Advertising Characters of the Era

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by LizzieMaine, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. The Boys have been using mascots and distinctive characters to get you to buy stuff for over a century now, and some of the figures they used before 1950, however effective they were in their day, are completely forgotten now. Sic transit gloria vendo.

    The face of Kelly Tires -- Miss Lotta Miles.


    The "Funny Fat Man On The Red Box," for Bunte Brothers Cough Drops.


    The "Engineer In Every Quart" of Veedol motor oil.

    Little Miss Bab-O. That's a bonnet, not a medieval halo.


    Zu Zu the Ginger Snap Clown, who ruled the cookie counter in the 1910s.


    Klee-Ko the Eskimo Boy, who wants you to try his Clicquot Club Ginger Ale.

    High-stepping Mr. Thirsty Fibre, the personification of Scottowels.

    Mr. and Mrs. Val, who prove the quality of their varnish by pouring boiling water on it.

    Lena, who knows lots of things you can do with Blue Ribbon Malt that don't involve the production of alcoholic beverages.

    The Wrigley Spearmen, who encouraged the kiddies to cultivate the chewing-gum habit.

    Willie the Penguin, who taught Joe Camel everything he ever knew.[​IMG]
    Danny Donut, who goosestepped across the windows of dozens of Mayflower Donut Shops around Greater New York.

    And poor old Sunny Jim, the very first advertising character used to market breakfast cereal, who was crowded off the shelf by younger, snazzier upstarts.
  2. Who was the "Old Dutch Cleanser" gal?

    Ever since I was 3 living with my grandma, I’ve been curious to know what she looked like.
    A bit of Old Dutch history. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark for Old Dutch was filed September 15, 1905 and registered March 27, 1906. The whole trademark is “Old Dutch Cleanser chases dirt, makes everything spic and span.”
    • It was first registered as a trademark and made by the Cudahy Packing Co., which apparently had a mine in Meade County Kansas and had roots in a company that used pumice to clean up the floors of the slaughterhouses of Chicago.
    • It was sold by Cudahy to Purex on April 24, 1955.
    • Later, the ingredients were apparently taken from a pumicite mine “hidden underground in the remote Mojave desert, produced 120,000 tons of cleansing powder for the company. The mine, along the Garlock Fault, closed in 1947. “
    Old Dutch, along with Comet and Bon Ami, was one of the big brands of pumice-based kitchen cleaners; its railcars were even featured on Tyco and Lionel trains in
    the 1970s.
    The product is nowhere to be found on the web.
    And I’m still wondering who was the “Old Dutch Cleanser” gal. :(
    M Hatman likes this.
  3. vitanola

    vitanola My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Who can forget Phoebe Snow, the lawn-clad representative of the Lackawana Railroad?

    Her immaculate attire emphasized the cleanly attributes of the Lackawana road, which, owning mines near Scrsnton, exclusively used clean-burning anthracite coal to fuel their engines rather than the cheaper bitumonous coal used by most other roads, which smutted travelers
    garments with black, greasy soot.

    LizzieMaine and 2jakes like this.
  4. [​IMG]

    The eerie, enigmatic "Electric Hand," stuff of nightmares for children haunted by its menacing image in magazine, newspaper, and billboard ads in the mid-thirties. It was a vacuum-operated gearshift-preselector gadget that was supposed to be the Next Big Thing, but it didn't quite catch on, perhaps because people were afraid of its disturbing, fascistic logo.
    Trenchfriend and vitanola like this.
  5. The Coca-Cola Sprite Boy

    Long before the “Sprite” drink which was introduced in the early 60s.
    This elf-like figure was used to promote Coca-Cola as “Coke” since the early 40s.

    The bottle caps originally had cork on the inside. We would collect the caps,
    carefully remove the cork and attach the caps on the outside of our tee-shirts
    with the cork on the inside to hold the cap in place.
    We were walking ads for Coca~Cola without realizing it. :(
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
    Trenchfriend and M Hatman like this.
  6. [​IMG]
    The Armour "Ham What Am" Chef was inescapable from the turn of the century into the early 1920s, and even after his rictus grin disappeared from the advertising pages, his "Ham What Am" slogan lingered on into the 1960s. That slogan was also appropriated by a popular 1920s vaudeville star, who impudently chose to bill himself as "Jay C. Flippen -- The Ham What Am!"
    Trenchfriend likes this.
  7. [​IMG]

    And then there's the Paramount Newsreel man, who turned that camera frontward and shoved it right in your face to make damn sure you knew you were being monitored by THE EYES AND EARS OF THE WORLD. "Daaa da da da Daa Daa DA da ta ta da -- DA DA DA duh DA DA, DAAAA DAAAAA!"
    Trenchfriend likes this.
  8. I yam what I yam!

    Trenchfriend and M Hatman like this.
  9. [​IMG]

    Know your market.
    Trenchfriend and Bruce Wayne like this.
  10. In the book (from '46) and subsequent movie "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (from '48), the plot conflict is that Mr Blandings is going broke overspending to build his and his wife's "dream" house while, in his job as an advertising exec (a "Boy From Marketing" :)), he is struggling to come up with a slogan for his client "Wham" who makes "Wham Ham."

    His housekeeper, played in the movie by Louise Beavers, while serving the Blandings breakfast in their new house - as a dejected Mr. Blandings frets over his inability to come up with an idea - tells the family in response to a query as to what they are having:

    Orange Juice, scrambled eggs and you know what?

    (The kids respond, "ham")

    Not ham, Wham. If you ain't eating Wham, you ain't eating ham.
    Mr. Blandings - completely stealing the idea - takes that to create this:


    That is a little too close for coincidence in my book. Granted, each era has its own advertising styles, but still - that's a pretty loud echo.
    2jakes and LizzieMaine like this.
  11. Yep. Anybody who was a kid in the 1910s or 20s-- which would have included the majority of the audience for that movie -- would have instantly gotten that reference. It'd be like making a movie today and including a riff on "Where's The Beef?" in it.
    Fading Fast likes this.
  12. Know your pen...
    Trenchfriend likes this.
  13. [​IMG]

    Extremely familiar to moviegoers in the 1910s, the Winged Clock represented Harry Aitken's Mutual Film Company, best known today for distributing Charlie Chaplin's best two-reelers, but in its day one of the most important companies in the business. However, Aitken himself was long gone by then, having been pushed out in a corporate power play. He tried to take his revenge by forming a new company with the express purpose of driving Mutual out of business. He ultimately succeeded in doing that, only to lose a fortune distributing D. W. Griffith's flop-masterpiece "Intolerance." Aitken fled back home to Wisconsin, where he lived until 1956, thinking no doubt about how time flew.
    Trenchfriend likes this.
  14. And leave it to the Boys to get an endorsement from Satan himself.


    Pluto Water was a laxative mineral water guaranteed to raise hell with your sluggish colon. Causing fraternity pledges to drink entire bottles of it and then go on a long hike was a favorite initiation stunt on the campuses of the Era.
    Trenchfriend likes this.
  15. I don't think initiation ceremonies have changed that much since then, especially amoung medical students. A strange bunch. :D
  16. Does his head echo an orange because donuts are usually a breakfast food? And why the military uniform - is there a connection to something there?

    Heck, pre-antibiotics, the key - the singular - selling point for these for soldiers is not pregnancy prevention - sure that's good - but no one wants one of those diseases in that era. Also, many doughboys visited prostitutes - pregnancy was not their concern in that situation at all, but an STD was everything.

    I'm wondering how well received this ad was. I can't image anyone wants something that "raises hell with their colon -" that doesn't sound great to me no matter what their problem. But an even larger issue: America was a meaningfully more sincerely religious country back then, I image this ad turned many off and sparked that small but loud part of the public that is always looking for a reason to be offended and start a boycott, a campaign against, etc.
  17. Not a word, as far as I have seen. The style of religion that was common in the Era was not in any way the style of religion that is common today -- the mainline denominations dominated, and tended to be very liberal-minded. The idea of biblical inerrancy and a literal, personal Devil were not really widely taught or believed by most people outside of relatively small Fundamentalist pockets in the South and Midwest. It wasn't until the postwar era that the current move toward fundamentalist millenarian Evangelicalism began. A picture of the Devil in an ad in the 1920s or 1930s would have raised no eyebrows whatsoever -- Satan was seen more as a fairytale character by most people than an actual entity. There was even a regional radio show in the late '30s called "The Devil's Scrapbook," hosted by The Devil in person -- "I AMMMMMMM THE DEVIL!"

    Aside from peddling laxative water, Ol' Scratch had a long-running side hustle in the lunch meat game.


    No escape for you, little piggy!!! And why am I not surprised to find that the Devil rides a fixie?

    And, showing that there's no such thing as bad publicity, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company even signed up the ol' 'Bub to promote its free booklet about syphilis.


    Chew on that ad for a bit. Ten percent of the population in 1927 had, or had had, syphilis. Obviously those mercury-infused rubbers weren't doing the job.
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  18. ⇧ Awesome Lizzie, your knowledge of these nuances, shades and variations is unbelievable and impressive.
    Zombie_61 likes this.
  19. As noted above, fantastic information. But to be fair, of that ten percent, how many used the rubbers? I have no idea, but wonder if they were effective if used correctly? The ten percent infection rate doesn't tell me much about their effectiveness unless we know if they were used properly by those getting infected.

    Even in the 1970s when I was a teenager, there was still a lot of aversion to using rubbers and still a lot of misunderstanding about them out there. I assume it was no better / probably worse back when that ad was put out in the '20s. (Great ad and that clock tower is still standing - part of a gorgeous building.)
  20. Well, I was being facetious with that comment. The statistic is still jarring -- people don't even think much today of "Cupid's Diseases," but pre-antibiotics not only were they dangerous, they were common.

    The big issue facing the distribution of condoms in the Era was the haphazard nature of city, state, and county laws restricting their distribution. Most brands during that period were marked SOLD FOR PREVENTION OF DISEASE so as not to offend the Comstockian fringe.

    Another advertising character used to promote prophylactics in the early 1940s was none other than Teddy Ballgame -- an enterprising promoter in the Boston area slapped an unmistakable image of TSW himself on their label.


    "The Splendid Splinter" indeed.
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