Bad vintage Christmas ads: 20 retro holiday sales pitches that you’d never see today

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Bad vintage Christmas ads

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

There’s a reason that advertising has evolved over the decades — and these bad vintage Christmas ads from years ago show you exactly why!
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When a man decides to shoot a prowler, he can’t afford to miss (from 1967)

Dec 1, 1967 Camera - Shoot a prowler


Who wants Happy Pants?

Here’s an ad from December 1953 that inexplicably teams up the Christmas holiday, Santa, Bob Hope (upside down, no less), Hope’s movie “Here Come the Girls” and some latex diaper covers called “Happy Pants.”

Dec 7, 1953 Bob Hope Happy Pants


Give your wife an extra head for Christmas.

Being that this ad is from 1969, the phrasing was probably intended to get a readers’ attention on several levels.

Dec 12, 1969 Give your wife an extra head for Christmas

MORE: Vintage gift sets for women & girls: Fragrance, beauty & skincare for her


Child beats grandma

“With Betty Crocker cake mix, amateur baker bakes better cake than experienced homemaker using best two-egg recipe.” (from 1950)

1950 Betty Crocker vintage ad - Child beats grandma


Creeper Santa

So many questions! Like: Why is this lady wearing those heels to climb up a ladder?

And why is this lecherous-looking Santa Claus handing her some presents while she’s still up there? And how did she even manage to get her dress hooked on the Christmas tree like that?

Naughty Santa and stockings - ad from 1950s

ALSO SEE: 20 glamorous ’50s housewives who REALLY loved their toilet paper


More creepy Santa-ness

The old guy certainly seems to be enjoying that lingerie in this Mojud ad from 1953.

1953 Santa with lingerie


This Christmas, you’ll need a carload of Q-Tips

It’s astounding, the holiday stunts you can do with Q-Tips. So don’t borrow baby’s — keep these famous sterilized cotton swabs in every room. So handy a hundred ways, 365 days a year!

Christmas Q-Tips from December 1957

ALSO SEE: The history of Q-Tips – and their original name (which would never ever work today)


WIVES: Cry a little (1966)

WIVES: Look this ad over carefully. Circle the items you want for Christmas. Show it to your husband. If he does not go to a.c. Carlson immediately, cry a little. Not a lot. Just a little. He’ll go. He’ll go.

HUSBANDS: Look this ad over carefully. Pick out what your wife wants. Come buy it. Before she starts to cry.

Dec 18 1966- What wives want for Christmas


Dear Santa, Have you had the measles?

Okay, this song about the measles from 1956 gets points for being a collaboration between the great Cab Calloway and his daughter, but still…

1956 Cashbox - Dear Santa Measles song


Last night, Grandma got loaded

Last night, Grandma got loaded in five seconds flat, and shot Uncle Henry – Agfa Isoflash Rapid “C” camera (from December 1966)

MORE: Vintage Instamatic cameras: Flash back to the boxy, iconic cameras that pretty much everyone had in the ’60s & ’70s

Dec 16, 1966 Christmas


That time the President sent cigarettes to all of his friends

“I’m sending Chesterfields to all my friends. That’s the merriest Christmas any smoker can have… – Ronald Reagan.” The actor is seen here in 1951, almost three decades before his presidency.

Ronald Reagan for Chesterfield cigarettes - Christmas 1951


This Christmas, give cartons of Luckies

Who wouldn’t want a decorator pack of cigarettes?

Luckies cigarettes for Christmas

MORE: How to be a perfect ’50s housewife: Love your refrigerator!


Give the pen that burps

Of all the possible marketing angles, they chose burps?
1953 - Give the pen that burps


Better than mistletoe?

In 1969, the women’s liberation movement was beginning — and, well, let’s just say that it’s unlikely a woman came up with this ad campaign concept.

1969 Christmas appliances better than mistletoe

MORE: How to be a perfect ’50s housewife: Cleaning your home


Attention Men

Don’t let your wife face an unhappy ending to her perfect holiday meal

Dec 1966 - Attention men - Get her a dishwasher for Christmas


Oh, Santa – Why don’t you bring Sis the man she wants?

I guess they’re hoping Santa will bring some toothpaste. (From 1952)

MORE: Talking behind her back: 12 really mean vintage ads that could give anyone a complex

1940s Colgate Santa Christmas ad - nesbit


Guess what we got you!

Mother probably thinks she’s going to get a diamond necklace. Oh, won’t she be surprised when they take off her blindfold! (From 1937)

1937 Vacuum cleaner for Christmas


Happier with a Hoover

We think she’d be happier with a housekeeper.

Happier with a Hoover vacuum

ALSO SEE: The first vintage vacuum cleaners & the history of the famous Hoover Company


Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?

This 1957 ad features a flashing Santa, opening up wide to show off some cigars.

Dec 16, 1957 Cigars flashing Santa


Pucker up, ladies

Any woman knows what to expect when she gives him the best

Any woman knows what to expect - Christmas presents bad vintage ad from 1953

NOW SEE THIS: 50+ sexist vintage ads so bad, you almost won’t believe they were real

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