I enjoy looking at old advertisements and comparing them to ads of today. They’re a window to our past, and can be quite entertaining, too. Studying advertisements over generations is a history lesson in the changes in our culture, society, ethics, business practices, economics, styles and trends.
Even though the design and content of ads change over the years, we humans still have the same basic needs, desires and emotions which companies target. Take, for instance, this advertorial (below) I found in a 1905 issue of “Country Life in America” magazine.
Obviously, men were concerned about baldness more than 100 years ago. But look at that “scientific” contraption! Guys, aren’t you glad the miracles of modern medicine have brought to market lotions, creams and drugs?
The product pitch of the copy is hilarious! The Vacuum Cap is suppose to exercise the scalp which makes blood circulate in the scalp to feed shrunken hair roots. Wouldn’t putting one’s head between one’s knees accomplish the same thing? Then again doing so might make one dizzy and it wouldn’t leave a “pleasant tingling sensation”.
The Vacuum Cap may have been “Easy and Pleasant to Use” though I can’t imagine it. It definitely was ridiculous to look at!
At least this company didn’t promise a miracle cure for all men. Not every man would be lucky enough to bring life to his scalp. The ad says if after a few minutes of use, one’s “scalp remains white and lifeless after the Cap is removed…hair cannot be made to grow…” This wording begs the question: back in 1905 did only Caucasians loose their hair, or were they the only ones who worried about losing their hair?
No credit cards, checks, money orders or PayPal back in 1905. “…deposit the price of the Cap in the Jefferson Bank of St. Louis, where it will remain during the trial period…”
And here’s something that wouldn’t happen today: the bank guarantees the product! “If you do not cultivate a sufficient growth of hair….simply notify the bank and they will return your deposit in full.” “All Caps are sold under the bank’s guarantee, and all money is sent direct to Jefferson Bank.”
Can you imagine saying to your bank rep, “This thing is a piece of junk! I didn’t grow hair, and my wife laughs at me when I use it. The company’s ad says you guarantee it. I want my money back!”?
Maybe the key to success with the Cap is wearing a suit while using it.