The 1920s brought forth a wide selection of new forms of popular culture, fads, and expectations. Among these new developments was the debut of the “New Woman”. Such women, often called flappers, have become one of the first topics that come up whenever the 1920s are discussed, and so it comes as no surprise that advertising executives would target many of their ads at these young women. A large number of these targeted ads were for health or hygiene products and they often employ tactics such as passively insulting those who do not use their products. The shared message that many of these ads are attempting to communicate is that if a women does not use these products, then they are less intelligent when compared to their peers, whom have embraced the concept of the “New Woman” and are doing the smart thing by buying these advertised products.
One such advertisement that demonstrates this point in an extremely blunt manner is a deodorant ad by the company Dew. The very first line at the top is, “EVERY WOMAN USES A DEORDORANT” which is then followed half way down by the line, “Smart women use DEW”. These two lines make it very clear that if a person was to not use this deodorant then they are either not very intelligent or are not even classified as a woman. The ad is insulting at first glance for any woman who does not use the product, and it belittles the reader a little bit more in the rest of the text. The paragraph following the main title is a fairly average description and sales pitch for a product, but this one alludes to how simple it is to use the deodorant and then features a few illustrations to show how to apply the product, its benefits, and what the bottle looks like. These addit...
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...ce is a common feature among health and beauty advertisements in the 1920s.
It may stem from the provocative nature of the “new woman” or it may just be an ingrained aspect of advertising, but these examples all share a common method to sell their respective products. All of them are for different health and beauty products, and they all utilize a different primary strategy to sell their product. Despite all of those differences, the presence of passive insults can be found in all of the ads. This seems counter-productive to making potential customers want to buy what is being presented in to ads, but if it did not work then it would not be such a widespread practice. Ignoring why it is that such a practice exists, it cannot be denied that it does indeed exist in these ads, and is no doubt a part of numerous other advertisements that involve women in the 1920s.
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