Photo: Wikimedia, CC.
Before Dr. Seuss became “Dr. Seuss,” he was Theodore Seuss Geisel, an ad agency illustrator who worked on campaigns for Ford, GE and NBC, in addition to once-giant but now forgotten brands such as Standard Oil, Flit and Schaefer Beer. (Oh wait, that last one still exists.)The ads—which appeared from 1927 through the 1940s—are strikingly similar to the illustrations in his children’s books.
What makes them fascinating is that in their advertising form they were aimed at adults, not kids. The New York Times noted that many of Seuss’s characters first appeared in ads.
In 1932, an ad he drew for the Warren Telechron clock company featured the same man who would ride the cart down Mulberry Street. For Daggett and Ramsdell beauty products, he drew a machine that made women beautiful and looked a lot like Mr. McMonkey McBean’s Star On and Star Off machines from “The Sneetches” 40 years later.
Nearly 85 years later, most of these ads are as charming and engaging today as they were when they were first published.
GE: Note that due to our modern religious sensitivities, there is no way GE would approve an ad like this today.
NBC: This campaign was a business-to-business effort encouraging people to advertise on the network..
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.