The 4 ads that got me into advertising

23 Feb

Anyone who’s within 10 years of my age either way (I’m 104) will be hurled down a time tunnel by looking at the following ads.

I came across them all in comic books and monster mags. I believed in these ads and ordered every product advertised in them. It was all snake oil of course and I ended up massively disappointed each time. The vial of soil from Dracula’s castle didn’t give me any special powers when I got sand kicked in my face while trying to hypnotize the school bully. Sneaky promises, out and out lies.

But the magic of these ads stayed with me despite the disappointments.

Now I have the opportunity not to disappoint when I write an ad. Advertising is a great business for honest people.


14 Responses to “The 4 ads that got me into advertising”

  1. sandy ibrahim February 23, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    I totally remember these ads, even though I’m only 76. i bought the sea-monkeys twice! once when i was a kid and then again for my kids a few years back. my best friend said hers worked and i felt like a failure for not raising a proper sea monkey family. i figured my kids might be more nurturing but they failed as sea-monkey parents too.

    As for the NEW MAN advertisement, it both confused and enthralled me – i couldn’t really find anyone in comic that i related to, but i wanted the product anyway.

    i had an older brother so i knew exactly why the boys wanted the x-ray glasses, so i didn’t much care for them but was really paranoid that they worked.

  2. redfelt13 February 23, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    While I was WAY too young to able to have money to buy these, I remember the Sea-Monkeys and The Insult from the Archie mags. True classics. No wonder you became a writer, look at all that juicy copy!

    I wonder what these ads would look like today? Minimalist with just a web address, or would they still be as frantic as they are here?

  3. dougbrowncreative February 23, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    People will read what interests them, sometimes it’s an ad.

    Hey Sandy, the only thing I ever got from a comic book that didn’t disappoint me was the Itching Powder. I put it in my oldest brother’s bed. Turned out it was fibre glass shavings and I got the crap kicked out of me. I could have used some Charles Atlas muscle at that stage.

  4. Michela February 23, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    I may be a different generation, but I definitely remember sea monkeys and being really excited about them when I was growing up. Never got to actually see them though, sadly my tank was knocked over prior to their hatching…

  5. dougbrowncreative February 23, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    That is a sad story. So much trainable, eager-to-please attention lost. So you were never able to style the blond hair-do on the females…

  6. Storme February 24, 2010 at 12:31 am #

    I had sea monkeys in the tank with the built-in magnifying discs (otherwise it was pretty hard to see them) and I sent away for the miniature spy camera (my first photos!) — but it was the hovercraft that I always lusted after and I just learned the catch on that one (from Diary of a Wimpy Kid) — they send you plans on how to build one !!! The ultimate rip-off !!!! But fun stuff anyway 🙂

  7. dougbrowncreative February 24, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    Since we all seem to have loved the experiences, is the message here that you can cheat and lie to the consumer as long as you do it in a fun way?

  8. Michela February 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    I’m not sure how much liability the companies selling the items had then, but it seems that now it would be much harder to get away with products like the vampire pendant. Everyone is looking to make a quick buck by filing a lawsuit for some sort of ‘false advertising’, and kids are catching onto the idea and becoming more aware that not everything that they are told is the truth. I feel ads like the ones you’ve posted don’t exist to the same extent (given, it’s been years since I picked up an Archie comic!), and that advertisers have been forced over the years to be more honest with their consumer.
    As you said, Advertising is a great business for honest people.

  9. Terry August 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    The Insult: There should be a challenge out there to find a better demonstrative advertisement (in theory) then this one. A classic from my Archie Comics days as well.

    I wonder if Ogilvy or Burnett or any of the old school agencies played a part in any of these?

  10. dougbrowncreative August 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    Funny thing about the Archie Comics is they advertise joy buzzers and itching powder.

    I just bought Sea Monkeys for my daughter, after regaling her with tales of the fun she would have with them as they posed for photos and learned tricks. Her “bowl of happiness” was done in 5 days, all 75 of them dead. We think we saw two of them swimming at one stage…

    I don’t know who did these amazing ads Terry, but I am ok with being duped. Was ok with the Santa Claus thing as well.

  11. Bernie August 25, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    The X-ray glasses worked for me. In fact I still have them. Checking the ladies out in grayscale is so naughty.

  12. variedthinking December 6, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    Ahh yes (as W.C. Fields would say it). Just like taking candy away from a baby or “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    That’s what we were when we were wet behind the ears and some of us never out grew that stage and thats why we still have Pyramid schemes.

  13. Gillian December 6, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    Aw man…sea monkeys! My mom would never let me order them! What do you think the equivalent is now?

  14. dougbrowncreative December 6, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    Gillian, the equivalent now is…Sea Monkeys. Still available to disappoint your children at ToysRUs.

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