The Weird and Crazy Ads of the 1950s

The Weird And Crazy Ads Of The 1950s Featured

During a time when many homes still didn’t even have a television, TV ads were just getting off the ground in the 1950s. Many ads of the 1950s were done by actors during or at the end of a show or the ads used cartoon characters, which was an iconic ad type of the time. While most ads didn’t get nearly as weird and crazy as they did decades later, there were still some pretty odd things going on.

Classic TV and movies are still popular for a reason. If you want to see more than than just classic ads, check out these classic monster movies.

Sugar Rice Krinkles – Clown

If you have a fear of clowns, skip this ad completely. While some found it endearing, the description on the YouTube video describes it perfectly – “Ever wondered what would happen if John Wayne Gacy made a cereal ad?”. The ad, which advertises the cereal Sugar Rice Krinkles, features a rather creepy clown stating that he “krinkles every time he eats it.”

Obviously, the ad is supposed to make kids crave the cereal, but for some kids, it may have just made them terrified of both the cereal and clowns.

Dorothy Gray Cosmetics – Cold Cream

Ever wanted a cold cream that can remove radioactive dirt from your face? Out of everything that might get on your face every day, you probably don’t think about radioactive elements. However, that’s exactly the approach Dorothy Gray Cosmetics took in their cold cream commercial. This is probably one of the weirdest and craziest ads of the 1950s.

A model sits smiling while a person puts dirt on their face that had radioactive tracers in it. They measure the level of radioactivity before and after the cold cream. While it works, as all products do in ads, it leaves the woman’s face with a special glow. Was it the cream or the radioactive dirt? We may never know.

Alka Seltzer – Speedy

Just one tablet in a glass of water and you’ll go from dragging at your job to being the best you could possible be. In a series of Alka Seltzer ads of the 1950s, Speedy, a small claymation style character (such as the classic Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer cartoon) with an Alka Seltzer tablet as a hat, comes to the rescue of a man struggling with headaches and pain throughout a variety of jobs.

For most people, seeing a tiny man talking to them out of the blue, they might freak out a little. However, whether he’s delivering the mail or on a stakeout to get a criminal, this guy has no problem taking a glass of medicine from a complete stranger that makes his insides sparkle. It’s odd, yet very cute for the time period.

Ovaltine – Captain Midnight

There’s nothing quite like a guy dressed as a superhero on what looks like a Saturday Night Live news skit set to make you want to drink Ovaltine. In this classic Ovaltine ad, none other than Captain Midnight lets kids and their parents know just how important it is to drink hot chocolaty Ovaltine. Captain Midnight made multiple appearances, even showing kids how they could become pilots and captains by drinking a glass.

During the 1950s, Ovaltine ads were extremely common. If you watched A Christmas Story, you’ll see that Ovaltine ads have a long history. In that movie, Ralph was devastated to discover the supposed important message on a radio show was actually an Ovaltine ad.

Lifebuoy Soap – Wicked

Soap’s supposed to make you smell good, or at least clean, but usually it doesn’t make those around you wicked. Lifebuoy Soap’s funny and risqué ad, at least for the 1950s, shows a housewife coming in, smelling the tantalizing soap on her husband and sprouting horns. The smell’s so enticing, she went from sweet to wicked and wanting much more from her husband instantly.

Think of this as the 1950s version of those sexy Ax Body Spray ads from the 2000s. We can only imagine that single guys were using Lifebuoy every day to attract women.

Coca-Cola – Bottle Cap Hat

Mascots were an integral part of many ad campaigns in the 1950s. If you had a recognizable character, it was much easier to sell a product. For Coca-Cola, it was a kid with a Coca-Cola bottle cap for a hat. On the surface, an animated boy with a bottle cap on his head shouldn’t be weird or crazy. But, when you see it, it’s actually a demonic looking floating head that looks more like something you’d see in a horror movie. Sure, it’s wearing a bottle cap hat and has a magic wand, but that somehow makes it even weirder.

The floating head also has a floating hand. None of it really make sense, but you’d have a hard time forgetting it or the brand once you see it. Coke had other ads in the 1950s that were far less disturbing, such as the girl who had a party and two women who were exhausted after a day of shopping.

Colgate Toothpaste – Bird

What does a bird have to do with toothpaste? Great question. It’s a stretch to make the connection, but the bird puns in the beginning of the ad make this one of the craziest and funniest ads of the 1950s. A couple is struggling to connect and the reason is simple – the guy’s breath is rank.

Now, for the connection to the bird. If you have bad breath, all you need is Colgate for fresh breath and clean teeth. And, when your breath is great, there’s no time for squawking. I know, it’s terribly corny, but as a lover of puns, I have to admit it’s a pretty great ad.

Band-Aid – Egg

What’s the best way to show how strong the adhesive is for a bandage? Why an egg, of course! If you’re feeling confused, you’re not alone. However, this is exactly how this Band-Aid ad proved their product worked better than the competition. It’s one of the weirder ads of the 1950s, just for the fact there’s a woman dangling an egg from a bandage. It’s not something you see everyday.

After brushing multiple other brands of bandages against an egg and nothing sticking, the woman brushes a Band-Aid against the egg, where it not only sticks, but lets her lift it and carry it around the room.

Enjoy classic ads from decades past? Check out some of the weird and cool ads from the 80s and the craziest ads of the 90s.

Image credit: Moritz Mentges via Unsplash

Crystal Crowder

Crystal's spent over 15 years writing about technology, productivity, and a little of everything else. She's always trying out new ways to beat procrastination and distractions to stay more productive and hopefully work fewer hours.