Monday, February 5, 2018

Scary Pitchmen Department

Rummaging through old newspapers, I frequently encounter startling illustrations in ads that make you wonder if the advertiser was trying to draw customers or scare the bejeezus out of readers.

Here are some recent finds.

Toronto Daily News, November 17, 1917.

This fellow topped an ad for a downtown Toronto furniture store. The pinprick eyes and dark shadows surrounding them suggest something alien or robotic. Is a trace of an evil smirk detectable? Or is he hypnotizing the reader into buying beds and victory bonds?

When he talks, it's in a slow, mechanical, increasingly menacing way.

"How may I help you? Interested in that chair? It's not within your financial limitations. What you should buy is a bond. A Victory Bond. A bond to help the war effort. Our war effort. BUY THAT BOND TO-DAY. It's good bih-zi-NESS! It's pay-tree-OT-ISM!!! We will win the WAR! CONQUER! ANNIHILATE!!!"

(At which point the store manager comes to unplug our creepy friend, apologize to the scared customers, and sell them more bonds).

Lindsay Watchman-Warder, February 17, 1910.

Cure-all patent medicines used illustrations of "customers" testifying to the miraculous powers of their product. Sometimes, you might accept the stuff worked. Not so sure in this case. Mrs. Minnett still doesn't look too happy (she had been in pain for 60 years, and was possibly suffered from phantom remnants of her long-term ailment), unless she simply hated the camera. Maybe it's the low-grade reproduction, but when Louisa and I looked at her picture, we decided she was the offspring of Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy and Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher from Young Frankenstein. Also, her hair was possibly sculpted from clay.

star 1933-02-09 scary moved like a doll ad
Toronto Star, February 9, 1933. 
This ad does not make a strong case for the effectiveness of Kruschen Salts. Before, our testifier moved like a wooden man. After, he looks like a wooden man, with an unnatural smile only a ventriloquist's dummy can flash.

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