Vintage Ads: Real...Or a Really Good Fake?

Thursday, January 30, 2014
With Photoshop so prevalent today, anyone can mock up a fake "vintage" ad. Some are quite the ads I've seen for Facebook and Twitter. Others, though, are pretty darn convincing they make you wonder. That's why I thought it would be fun to look at a smattering of ads I've come across online that are either outlandishly authentic or too outlandish to be authentic. Real...or a really good fake? Let's take a look. How many of these would have fooled you?

These lard ads have been floating around online for the past few years, and they still crack me up. Maybe it's the word lard itself...somehow, saying they're happy because they eat shortening wouldn't pack quite the same punch. 

The top ad showing the happy family did trick me. The second one with the smiling couple is too good to be true. Indeed, there is a website for the British Lard Marketing Board and it's obviously a parody, but a pretty good one. Here's a sampling of copy from their site: "Lard gets a bad press - why, we don't know. It's nutritional properties are well documented and it's not our fault that some people are too scared to eat it. Go on, live a little - there's nothing like eating a big Sunday roast followed by suet pudding and custard (made with fullfat milk of course) and then sitting back and feeling those arteries harden. Let's face it - Nigella Lawson still looks pretty fit and she eats all sorts of naughty stuff."

Furthermore, as confirmed by, the ads themselves came from Viz, a British humour magazine. They did other fake advertising campaigns encouraging people to smoke and drink. 

Verdict: FAKE

WTF, right? 7up for babies? Let's hope mom and dad have a good dental plan. I've seen some blogs insist that this ad is a forgery but it is, indeed, real! AdAge reported that the campaign was launched during the 1950s. The copy even suggests mixing milk with 7up to entice youngsters to drink their dairy. Try not to dry heave on that thought. Incidentally, there's a cola ad out there floating around also featuring a baby that was determined to be Photoshopped.

Verdict: REAL

UPDATE: When I first published this post in January 2014, there was no information to be found on the above ad. I've since been told by several commenters that it was designed by artist Art Chantry in the 1980s to help warn against AIDS and other STDs. Here is what a Facebook page about Chantry's work said about the design: "Chantry was approached by the Cole and Weber ad agency to apply his Tool style to a poster promoting condom use in 1997. Ultimately distributed by the Washington State Department of Health and Social Services, the Penis Cop poster, as it is commonly known, won a bronze Lion at the Cannes festival for international advertising. "

So the ad is real, but it was not created in the 1940s like the look it emulates. 

American WWII propaganda included a lot of unintentionally comical messages about the spreading of STDs. I REALLY wanted this ad, that I discovered on Pinterest, to be real--but let's face it, the word penis never would have been seen in 1940s or 1950s advertising, especially in such large lettering. The other giveaway is the use of the phrase "cavity creeps" in the left side sidebar...cavity creeps are characters from a 1980s television commercial for Crest toothpaste. But you gotta admire the effort here...the cartoon condom at the top of the ad, the "Pleasure Graph" showing how sex with a condom is only marginally less than sex without it, and the tidbit about how condom is the same word in English, French, Spanish and Italian (I did not test this in Google translate to confirm its accuracy.) I applaud the amount of work and humor that went into creating this ad. 


Sex sells, and if you really have to wonder what boobies have to do with shoe polish, then you "don't know s*it from Shinola" as a competitor of Griffin would say. However, the matching of attractive girls with unsexy products--auto parts, computers, etc.--is an advertising practice not commonly seen until the 1970s and 1980s. The Griffin ad above is supposedly from the 1950s. So, what's the dealio?

Believe it or not, the ad is real. Griffin's mad men created a campaign of cleavage-baring cuties ooo-ing and ahh-ing over Griffin's microsheen boot polish shine. What's weird is that by the 1960s the shoe polish company did an about-face and featured kids in their television commercials. Perhaps they received complaints about the print ads being too sexist?

Verdict: REAL

I've seen similar advertisements touting the benefits of video games (done 1950s style) so I was prepared to find out that this one for Motorola was a fake. Better behavior at home, and better marks in school....really? Believe it...this one is real, according to other blog posts written about it. Hey, television was a brand new world in the 1950s--we'll cut Motorola some slack. 

Verdict: REAL

The best way to get over a hangover? Have another drink. This morose looking woman looks like she's there sheets to the wind, with a cigarette to boot. I couldn't find the back story on this one, but had the ad featured a cocktail recipe for a screwdriver with a cheerful looking drinker, I might half believe it. However, I'm going to have to go out on a limb here and declare this one a phony. 

Verdict: FAKE

Hmmm...why don't I remember this product in stores? At first I thought it was a European personal radio until I realized it's a mocked up 1970s style iPod--just a slick, colorful Photoshop job. I wish it were real. 

Verdict: FAKE

I posted this one to the Go Retro Facebook page yesterday because it had me cracking up. The honeymoon's over, kids. Time to find out what marriage is REALLY all about--housework!--when the Mrs. comes home to find The Addis Wedding Set (code name for Housewife Starter Kit) at the front door. At least it's available in some snappy colors, including tangerine, gold, or avocado. Gosh, what blushing bride wouldn't want to receive this as a coming home gift?

If this ad were out today, it would surely be a fake, as everyone would declare it sexist. But as it came out (I'm guessing) during the 1980s, no one batted an eye. What comes in the husband's Addis Wedding Set? Brandy, slippers, and a robe?

Verdict: REAL


  1. I saw the 7Up ad on Pinterest and did a double-take. I'm not surprised, though, that it is real.

    The condom fake can be spotted a mile away--they might as well have used a sock in the pants, it was so obvious!

    Thank you for this! This was fun!

  2. When I was growing up, my dad swore by 7-Up for everything:

    Stomach ache? 7-Up!
    Cold, cough and sore throat? 7-Up!
    Stomach flu? 7-Up!
    Sinus infection? 7-Up!
    Ear infection? 7-Up!
    Constipation got you down? 7-Up!

    He was born in 1940, so by the time the mid 50's rolled around, he was just coming into his own as an adult. I was born in the 60's, so I guess this was one marketing ploy by 7-Up that spanned at least a few generations

  3. Honestly? Most of these fooled me.

    That pocket hi-fi walkman thing-a-mah-bob so needs to be real. I want to back in time and invent it! :)

    This was a great post!

  4. One item that may indicate it's a real ad - if it's from a mag or newspaper it might have "bleed through" of text/images from the other side of the page.

  5. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit
    my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again.
    Anyways, just wanted to say excellent blog!

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  6. I've seen a variant of that 7-up ad, where the baby is drinking from a 7-up bottle with a nipple on it.

  7. You did not mention that it is Goldie Hawn in the Smirnoff for breakfast ad.

    1. That's because that is not Goldie Hawn.

  8. Looks sorta like Katharine Ross, and I'd bet money it's from a movie, but I don't recognize the shot.

  9. The first clue to me on the condom ad was the word AIDS. We hadn't heard of that disease until about 1982.

  10. 7-Up was originally sold as an antacid drink, the principle being similar to Alka-Seltzer without the aspirin, and was offered in "hospital-size bottles," whatever that meant. When my mom was a little girl and had an upset stomach, the doctor recommended to my grandmother that she give her a glass of 7-Up as a remedy.


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