Remember the days of classic TV commercials? Before the days of DVRs and streaming services that allow us to skip right past them. The era of the 70s was full of iconic commercials with catchy jingles and odd pitches, that would never be allowed on air today. Here at RFGC, we’ve gathered some of the most memorable commercials that are so retro, they’ve become cult classics. Take a journey down memory lane and experience the strangeness of 70s advertising.
Who can forget the iconic and offensive Frito Bandito, a cartoonish Mexican bandit who stole the spice mix from Fritos chips. He featured in the TV commercials of 70s as a stereotypical caricature of a bandit from Mexico with a sombrero, bandolier, and broken English accent.
Not only was this commercial culturally insensitive and misleading, but it also perpetuated negative stereotypes of Latino people. It’s hard to imagine a commercial like this being allowed on air today, and rightly so.
Virginia Slims, a cigarette brand marketed to women, had some of the most outrageous commercials of the 70s. The advertisements not only promoted smoking, but they also objectified women as sophisticated and glamorous, only attainable by smoking Virginia Slims cigarettes.
The most iconic commercial from the Virginia Slims campaign featured a group of women in 70s attire standing up for their right to smoke Virginia Slims. The tagline, “You’ve come a long way, baby”, suggested that smoking cigarettes was a symbol of female empowerment, a message that definitely wouldn’t fly nowadays.
Calgon Water Softener has some of the most memorable commercials from the 70s. It featured an overworked and exhausted working mother with a terrible job, an ungrateful husband, and demanding kids. When she could no longer bear it, she would scream, “Calgon, take me away!” as she indulged in a luxurious bubble bath.
Although the jingle was catchy, the commercial perpetuated negative gender stereotypes and suggested that women should resort to escapism rather than seeking real solutions to their problems.
Mr. Whipple, the grocery store manager who begged his customers not to squeeze the Charmin toilet paper, was a staple in 70s commercials. He was featured in numerous ads where people were seen unable to resist the urge to squeeze the Charmin until the manager himself stepped in.
Although the commercials were somewhat ridiculous, they did engage viewers and increased sales for the brand. However, in more recent times, the advertising standards bodies have heavily scrutinized toilet paper ads, and one about squeezing toilet paper would definitely be deemed inappropriate nowadays.
There we have it. Some of the most iconic commercials from the 70s, which are so weird that they would be considered completely inappropriate in today’s world. Advertising has come a long way concerning social and cultural sensitivity, and it is unlikely that any of these commercials would make it past the first pitch meeting in modern times.
But, we can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic for the pure ridiculousness and absurdity of these classic commercials. Maybe we should dig more into the archives and find some more on point gross and questionable commercials to further delight in.