These Ads Drawn By Dr Seuss Before He Was Famous Are Utterly Charming

Dr Suess

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.

Flit was a brand of insect repellent. The slogan 'Quick, Henry, the Flit!

Holly Sugar

Standard Oil's Esso brand

LPCC was a company that made contractor calling cards.

Brevo shaving brushes

Ajax cups (page 1 of three)

This campaign suggested that drinking out of glassware was somehow unhygienic.

Consumers had a high tolerance for 'long copy' ads in the 20th Century.


This was a campaign for short movies sponsored by Ford.

Ford was hoping movie houses could be persuaded to show them.

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..

New Departure

The Warren Telechron Co.

Schaefer Beer

This is the first of a nine-page ad section for Stromberg Carlson radios.

Note how much like his children's books this is.

The ad was published in 1940.

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