These 20 Racist Vintage Ads Would Stir Up a Riot in Today’s World

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Advertising is a powerful force that has shaped our attitudes and behaviors since the early 19th century when it got into newspapers, and the early 1940s when it got into television. It has been one of the most important marketing strategies brands look into- this role ensures effective and direct communication with consumers. But do brands deliberately put out things that could affect the feelings of a group of consumers?

We live in a world constructed by marketers, even though you may want to reject it. It’s nothing new for marketers to cater to the public’s ignorance. These old advertisements wonderfully capture everything that was wrong with the racial past, making them a time capsule.  In addition to being sexist or racist, these ads also encouraged bad habits by telling lies while using old-fashioned advertising.

These racist vintage ads from decades ago demonstrate stereotyping being used in outright racism, making it very obvious. As you would see in this article, the deplorable stereotypes and caricatures of racists that are depicted in these old advertisements and posters by marketers still have a negative impact. 

Of course, just because stereotyping is the quickest and most convenient way for advertising to communicate a given message doesn’t mean it’s the best. But since it’s the simplest method, it won’t go away any time soon.

These 20 Racist Vintage Ads Would Make You Realize How Far We’ve Come

  1. CHLORINOL SODA BLEACHING- WE ARE GOING TO USE “CHLORINOL” AND BE LIKE DE WHITE NIGGER. 

This ad used black kids as icons to advertise their bleaching product.

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. “Why don’t you wash with Vinolia soap?” 

The ad shows a white girl who thinks the black girl has black skin because she is “dirty.”

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Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. COURAGE- “Dying to save the queen’s colors.” 

The words used demonstrate how profound and pervasive racism was.

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Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. Cream O’wheat- Ah’ve always said, and now repeat– Ma health am due to CREAM O’WHEAT. 

This ad is making a racist caricature. 

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Flickr
  1. GENERAL ELECTRIC SINK- I’se sure got a good job now! 

This ad, as seen in most vintage ads from that era, used blacks as waiters, servants, and inferior people.

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Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. BLACK MARIA- A Good Black CHEWING TOBACCO

Black Maria obviously reduced blacks to smoking tobacco.

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Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1.  Use CZAR Baking Powder

This ad clearly portrays the most well-known racial stereotype of Black women– The Mammy Troupe.

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Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. PEARS’ SOAP- “The White Man’s Burden is through teaching the virtue of cleanliness.”

Pears’ soap clearly sees teaching cleanliness as a burden to the whites.

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Business Insider
  1. VAN HEUSEN- “4 out of 5 men want oxfords …

In these new Van Heusen styles.” The racism in this advertisement is evident as it features five middle-aged men, four of whom are white and dressed in Van Heusen fashion, as well as a man of a different race who is unclothed.

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Source: Business Insider
  1. SMOKE TOPSY TOBACCO- 

The ad used a black child to influence and promote smoking. 

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1.  Maxwell House- “Golly Mis’ Maria… Folks Jus’ Can’t Help Having’ A Friendly Feelin’ For Dis Yeah Coffee.”  

This ad depicts two middle-aged black men as servants serving a white woman.

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. ELLIOTT PAINT & VARNISH CO.- “see how it covers over black.” 

The advertisement attempted to demonstrate a very high quality that can easily cover black skin while using racism to promote their product.

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. THE GOLD DUST TWINS- “The Right Brothers for Cleaning.” 

The 1916 ad used black kids as “cleaning” advertising icons.

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Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. “Yassuh… it’s Genu-wine Hires.

The ad shows a black man serving a white couple.

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. PEARS’ SOAP- “I have found PEARS’ SOAP matchless for the Hands and Complexion.” 

Again! Pears’ soap ad depicts the disrespect for blacks. 

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. “WHY DOESN’T YOUR MAMMA WASH YOU WITH FAIRY SOAP?” 

This ad sees blacks as unclean.

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Business Insider
  1.  2 IN 1 
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Source: Business Insider
  1. JELL-O – “Mammy sent dis ovah.” 

The ad shows a black boy serving a white woman.

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. Budweiser – “GOOD TIMES COMING, BOSS!” 

The ad depicts the black man as a servant, while the white man is portrayed as the boss.

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Allthatsinteresting.com
  1. Laura Bro’s & co’s – “Beat that if you can”

The ad depicts an older white man washing a black boy with the product– trying to show that the soap could easily turn black to white.

racist-vintage-ads
Source: Allthatsinteresting.com

Whether we like it or not, it is a piece of history worth seeing for everyone. At the same time, it serves as a terrifying reminder of how far we’ve come. This is advertising at its worst! 

Even today, advertising doesn’t try very hard to conform to moral standards. But after looking back at some offensive, racist, sexist, and over-the-top funny ads – today’s commercials are way better!

Enjoy these offensive, racist vintage ads, and do take them lightheartedly.

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Adesua Okoeguale
Adesua Okoeguale
I write passionately to engage and bring delight to my readers.

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