Monday, May 25
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Retrotisements: Thanksgiving Edition

For more Thanksgiving ads, check out the Holiday Retrotisements section of the main site.

In terms of marketability, Thanksgiving is important mostly because its end marks the official kickoff of the Christmas shopping season (aka Black Friday).  That distinction is becoming more and more meaningless, however, as most stores now trot out their Christmas crap before Halloween.  So in that sense, Thanksgiving is really more of a transitional holiday than an end in itself.  That’s reflected in advertising for the day, which has a bit of a haphazard feel.

It stands to reason that since Thanksgiving involves gorging, Campbell’s tries to get in on the action.  So we have a pair of ads here.  The first is straightforward enough, extolling the virtues of turkey noodle soup.  And dig that mod outfit!  (Campbell’s, 1970)

Campbell's Soup 1970 thanksgiving ad

OK, can someone explain to me how tomato soup (or cream of tomato for that matter) fits in with turkey dinner?  And yes, I see the “Soup makes the whole meal taste better” tagline.  Oh well, at least the iconic Campbell’s character design is present.  (Campbell’s, 1923)

Campbell's Soup 1923 thanksgiving ad

Wow, talk about a different era.  In an effort to sell Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch actually had the balls to claim that Native Americans of yesteryear would be proud to see how the grain they used to harvest for their very survival is now used to feed the modern American (white) industrial complex.  Better yet, the term “red man” is actually used in the ad copy.  That’s especially awesome in retrospect as the little banner at the top says “Great Contributions to Good Taste”.

But in the biggest reach of all, they make a clumsy segue from virtuous corn to it’s “neighbor” barley.  Huh?  Still, the art is very nice.  (Budweiser, 1947)

Budweiser 1947 Thanksgiving ad

You know what gets the taste of cranberry sauce and bitter family arguments out of your mouth?  Turkish blend tobacco, that’s what!  (Omar cigarettes, 1918)

Omar cigarettes 1918 Thanksgiving ad

Leave it to Rastus to solve the world’s hunger problems, since apparently as early as 1919 he stumbled upon a breed of turkey so ridiculously huge it probably could feed a small village.  Oh yeah, and this is yet another example of what I talked about earlier – lazy advertisers could think of nothing better for the holiday than to just slap the word “Thanksgiving” on an ad and expect the rest of us to make the connection.  (Cream of Wheat, 1919)

Cream of Wheat 1919 Thanksgiving ad

I’m gonna forgive little Jane for doing her best Creepy Bread Girl impression, as I’d probably have a similarly incredulous look if faced with the prospect of being served with a slice of steaming hot Nightmare Loaf.  Oh hey, grandma says hi and she forgives dad for sticking her in that rest home.  (Western Union, 1947)

Western Union 1947 Thanksgiving ad

Take pictures on Thanksgiving!  Or any other day of the year!  We don’t really give a shit, just buy our camera please!  (Kodak, 1968)

Kodak 1968 Thanksgiving ad

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