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Ew Tube – The Golden Age Of TV Commercials

Ew Tube – The Golden Age Of TV Commercials


In case you haven’t noticed, I mainly use the wonderful invention of YouTube to do something everyone else in the world hates: watch ads. This week I decided to share some of my favourite American commercials from the 1950s, a fantastic era for television. I could have picked the most dated, sexist and racist examples of an era I never lived through and laugh at how far we’ve come. I chose not to because it would be pointless, too easy and arrogant considering how little we’ve actually progressed. The commercials I chose are certainly old-fashioned but can be viewed with a sense of irony and not superiority.

Camel Cigarettes

By default, all cigarette commercials are dated and my generation was the last to see tobacco products advertised on television. And rightly so. Doctors have made us well aware of the health hazards that come with smoking. This is why I like this commercial so much as not only does it promote smoking, but a doctor, your doctor, smokes too.


Even today, advertisers pander to both men and women to sell their wares. Listerine is a common household product used by everyone but going by this commercial you’d think halitosis is just another thing in the long list of ‘women’s ailments’. Catchy jingle though.


Before the beautiful Clydesdale horses galloped across our screens in the famous American beer ad, they had this. Some ads try to be arty and conceptual and frequently end up failing to actually promote the product. This one manages both and also has an air of French New Wave cinema about it and seems to be appealing to the beatnik viewers. Odd, but certainly interesting.

Westinghouse with Betty Furness

It would be impossible to discuss vintage TV commercials without mentioning the awesomeness of Betty Furness. Back in the days of live TV plays, they still had commercial breaks. They too were also live. The drama series Studio One was sponsored by the electrical company Westinghouse and had their products advertised during the live broadcast. Betty Furness, an actress, consumer advocate and an early outspoken critic of ageism on television, had a professional and conversational manner which ended up becoming the standard for all televised advertisement.


The Ford Edsel

Few could see this coming. Watching this commercial  you’d think the Edsel was a groundbreaking vehicle. It was indeed the first vehicle to have warning lights in the dashboard for low oil and fuel among other features common in today’s cars. Ford spent millions of dollars advertising this car and made an extra effort to convince you why you needed this car. How were they to know such an ugly looking machine would nearly cripple the company?

What are your favourite old ads? Let us know in the comments!