They just don’t make misogynist ads like they used to

8 02 2012

If you thought Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” promo was causing major controversy, just imagine the epic outrage firestorm that would erupt if Dodge decided to run the copy from this 1969 Charger R/T ad today:

I don’t know if it’s because we’ve lost a certain collective sense of humor since the Mad Men era, or if such over-the-top sexism was such a given back in the day that this wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow; it was probably some combination of the two. Either way, it would be suicidal for a company to run this piece now.

But don’t think that clueless women with big hair and dated clothing (did she macrame that dress herself?) were the only weapons in the automotive ad men’s arsenal. In 1923–just a few years after American women secured the right to vote and long before the rise of the modern feminist movement–the Jordan Motor Car Company invoked the spirit of feminine independence in an effort to sell cars. Ironically, their most famous ad was for the sporty “Playboy” model:

That “Somewhere West of Laramie” piece set the form and style of automotive advertising for decades to come. Notice the fundamental similarity of the Jordan and Dodge pieces–even as their messages couldn’t be more radically different in tone.

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