Using sex to sell merchandise is hardly a new tactic, but in the 1940s it wasn’t a common one either. And yet in the 1940s and ’50s Springs Cotton Mills, makers of Springmaid Fabrics, put out a series of ads that likely pushed every boundary there was in American marketing with regards to sex appeal.
The Springmaid ads, clearly influenced by pin-up art, made use of double entendre (written by company owners Elliot White Springs) and liberal doses of voyeurism. The illustrations generally fell into one of two categories, with some exceptions: looking up a woman’s skirt or seeing her panties fall down around her ankles. That’s about it. Most of the advertisements came with a short tagline such as “Defy Diaphoresis,” “Protect Yourself,” or “Perfume and Parabolics.” My personal favorite is “We Put the ‘Broad’ in Broadcloth!”
Here’s a gallery of just some of the racy Springmaid Fabrics ads produced by Springs Cotton Mills in the mid-century period.