There is perhaps no more direct connection between economics and every day life than the art of advertising.  We offer a brief synopsis of some of the ad world’s momentous milestones in a special post we call “AdLife.”


The 1880s

  • An advertising executive sells his client’s product by circulating the legend that “Oilopas Esu” had been inscribed within an Egyptian tomb. People had only to reverse the letters to see that the ad was for Sapolio, an increasingly popular household soap.

1900 or so

  • The Uneeda Biscuit from the National Biscuit Company is named by an ad man and receives the first million-dollar ad campaign. They tell the world, “Lest you forget, we say it yet, Uneeda Biscuit.”
  • Itsagood Soup and Uwanta Beer hit the market soon after Uneeda Biscuit.
  • An ad man convinces Quaker Oats to change the name of Wheat Berries to Puffed Wheat.
  • Pepsodent first discovers the power of plaque to sell toothpaste.


  • In response to Packard’s V-6, which had surpassed Cadillac’s V-4, Cadillac introduces a V-8 engine. Experiencing too many fires and short circuits, the Cadillacs with V-8s turned to the ad world for help. The result was: “The Penalty of Leadership: In every field of human endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. . . . When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few.”

The 1920s

  • We are told to use Quaker Oats if our child is the one in every three children who is: Run down; Frail; Delicate; Underdeveloped; Pale; Always tired; Easily upset; Irritable; Backward in school; Not himself?
  • The ad world triumphantly identifies the malady “halitosis” for Lis- terine to combat. People learn, “Even your best friend won’t tell you,” and sales soar.
  • The first commercial radio ad is sold to a Long Island real estate firm. A new era begins when they immediately sell two apartments.
  • The most famous auto ad of the 1920s first appears. Written for the Jordan Playboy, it connects the Wild West with an open runabout: “Somewhere West of Laramie, there’s a broncho-busting, steer- roping girl who knows what I’m talking about.” The Playboy was built for the “lass” who “loves the cross of the wild and the tame.”

The 1930s

  • A homely man says, “Even I look good in an Arrow shirt.”
  • Borden creates Elsie the cow.
  • Ipana starts to say “the one in the red and yellow tube” as copy for radio ads becomes more descriptive.
  • Fleischmann’s Yeast has to withdraw ads saying it cures crooked teeth because of a truth in advertising law passed by Congress.

The 1950s

  • The onset of TV and Uncle Miltie revolutionizes advertising.
  • Autos take the lead away from packaged goods and cigarettes as the most heavily advertised goods. With General Motors at the top, except for Coca-Cola, the leading advertisers are all automakers.
  • Consumers learn that “Wonder Bread helps build strong bodies twelve ways.”
  • Colgate first says that it “cleans your breath while it cleans your teeth.” (Remember its Gardol shield?)
  • Anacin shows three boxes in a headache sufferer’s head and proclaims that it is “the pain reliever doctors recommend most.”
  • Lucky Strike ads say “It’s toasted.” (Yes, Lucky Strike was toasted— —but so too was all cigarette tobacco.)
  • The man in the Hathaway shirt first appears.
  • People are told they “don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish rye.”

The 1960s

  • Avis says, “We try harder.”
  • Ad makers for the Minnesota Canning Company create the Jolly Green Giant with his “Ho Ho Ho” and change their client’s corporate name to Green Giant.
  • We first meet the Pillsbury Doughboy, Tony the Tiger, and the Marlboro man.
  • A Wolfschmidt Vodka bottle turns to a tomato and says, “You’re some tomato. We could make some beautiful Bloody Marys together.”
  • The Allerest bottle sneezes and we’re asked, “Cat make you sneeze?”
  • We hear stripper music as Noxema tells us, “Take it all off.”
  • Alka Seltzer says to us, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”
  • Benson & Hedges conveys the disadvantages of 100-millimeter cigarettes as we see a smoker inadvertently popping a balloon and burning a newspaper