26 sexist ads that will haunt companies forever

This ad for Protein World — a diet supplement — caused more debate in Britain than any other ad this year.

After it first appeared in London underground stations during the summer, it was the subject of hundreds of complaints to the UK’s advertising watchdog regulator, mostly from people who believed it showed an unrealistic portrayal of a woman that might make other women feel their bodies were inferior.

Some called for ads that encourage women to become thinner to be banned, because they are sexist. MP Caroline Noakes has started a campaign to ban models appearing on fashion catwalks and clothing ads if they have a Body Mass Index of less than 18.

But … it could be worse, as these old ads show. Some of them are from major brands who doubtless cringe at what they did in the past.

Heinz, 1950: The ad begins, 'Most husbands, nowadays, have stopped beating their wives ...'


Van Heusen, 1951: 'Show her it's a man's world.'

Van Heusen

Chase & Sanborn, 1952: This ad makes light of domestic violence.

Chase & Sanborn Coffee

Schlitz, 1952: 'Don't worry darling, you didn't burn the beer!'


Alcoa, 1953: Alcoa Aluminium's bottle caps open 'without a knife blade, a bottle opener, or even a husband.'

Alcoa Aluminum

Pitney-Bowes, 1953: It's so easy to use that even a woman with 'no mechanical aptitude' can operate it.


Unilever, 1955: Guess who does all the dishes?


Budweiser, 1956: 'Budweiser has delighted more husbands than any other brew ever known.'


Drummond, 1959: Woman are 'a drag.'


Kenwood, 1961: 'That's what wives are for!'


Acme, 1963: The most important quality in coffee is how much it will please your man.

Acme Coffee

Nesbit's, 1964: 'Are you woman enough to buy a man's mustard?'

Mr. Mustard

VW, 1964: 'Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things … She can jab the hood. Graze the door. Or bump the bumper …'


Dormeyer, 1966: Wives are desperate for home appliances and will cry to get them.


Brown & Williamson, 1967: 'The best ones are thin and rich.'

Silva Cigarettes

1968: American Airlines wants you to think of its attractive flight attendants as your mother.

American Airlines

Procter & Gamble, 1968: The moon isn't going to clean itself.


Whitehall Labs, 1969: 'Housewife headache.'


Muriel, 1969: Tipalet wants you to know that cigarettes are made for men, but instantly attractive to women.


1969-1970: Jell-O doesn't think a woman can understand office hierarchies.


1970: Datacomp has a computer anyone can use ... even women!


General Mills, 1970: 'Keep up with the house ... '


Dacron, 1970: 'It's nice to have a girl around the house.'

Mr. Leggs

Mini, 1971: The caption below the ad reads, 'It makes driving as effortless as sleeping. Sleeping, Luv ... '

Mini Cooper

Brown, 1973: 'It's a wifesaver!'


1974: Weyenberg Shoes thinks women belong at men's feet.

Weyenberg Shoe Manufacturering

How does Mad Men compare to reality?

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