In the 1950’s Selling Stuff Was Fun

Ad men in the 1950s and 60’s were full of contradictions. They had to give the clients what they wanted. Yet, whenever they could, they delivered ideas that were outrageous and worse. They laughed at our collective gullibility. They ridiculed the American housewife but loved to sell her stuff. Dick Anderson and colleagues would role play ideas to work them out. One time they tried the idea of tough guys who could cook. Actors like Vincent Price and Edward G. Robinson would play mobsters who could make instant coffee. They would have aprons on and say things like, “alright, you guys are going to fry!” Find other examples of outrageous ideas, like talking beer steins in The Lost Chapters.

Benton and Bowles, SSC&B, and the agencies Dick worked for produced some great ads and some terrible ones.

One disasterous ad that my father was involved in was part of a successful Instant Maxwell House campaign that boasted, “you get a cup and a half of flavor in every cup of Instant Maxwell House.” It was pulled when customers called with stories of burning their hands trying to imitate the animated ad!

In 1964 when Dick Anderson’s sister-in-law gave birth to twins he happened to be working on the continuation of the “Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin!” campaign for Proctor and Gamble. For fun he wrote and produced a version of the familiar bathroom tissue (toilet paper) ad. In it the nosey grocer, played by actor Dick Wilson, discovers adult twin sisters (named after his newborn nieces) who of course can’t keep themselves from fondling the packages on display. I have the original film. Take a look.

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