Ads #31: Shame Tactics

I've talked a lot about the "sex sells" marketing tactic on Retrospace, but there may be another method that's just as persuasive - "shame sells".  Make the buyer think he is the most repugnant, degenerate piece of shit on earth because he doesn't use your product. It's genius.

Take for instance, the Shower to Shower body powder ad above: this ad would have us believe that people will be shouting in pain and vomiting by your mere presence until you add a little of their glorified baking powder, and suddenly the whole elevator loves you!

Instead of a whole elevator of strangers gagging and dry heaving, in this ad we have a wife that looks absolutely disgusted by his foulsmelling breath.  He may have been the head of the family, the breadwinner and pants wearer, but now he's a vile creature to be despised.  If only he'd used Polident.

Forhans Toothpaste ad 1932

It's like he's mourning her death. Were her teeth so bad they put her down?

The most effective tactic may be to play on a man's insecurities in bed. He's already a little worried he's not pleasing his wife the way he should be, and maybe he's getting a little old in years, so he's not the young stud he once was. Buy these capsules and your wife won't look like the woman in the picture above - distant and contemplating hot sweaty sex with the poolboy.

And speaking of insecurities: who are the most insecure people on planet earth? That's right, teenagers. Already self conscious as hell about their zits, this advertisement puts the fear of God into them, making acne equivalent to leprosy.

Here's a guy who made a mint off male insecurity. It seemed like every magazine or comic book I read, there was Charles Atlas staring at me.  His stare doesn't say "It's what's on the inside that counts". His deep penetrating stare says "Stop being a pussy and get up off your boney ass!" As the ad says, "big brawny he-men grab the most attention, the best jobs, the prettiest girls!" Meanwhile, here you sit with this comic book in your hands. What are you waiting for, you freakishly skinny wimp, send me money!!!

For another post on this topic read "Men Can't Forgive Mephitis". 


  1. The ad for the Free 30 days supply of high potency Capsules doesn't appear to be what it seems when you actually read the copy. If sure starts off sounding like this poor guy can't satisfy his wife in bed anymore but then I got to the last sentence in the first paragraph "Are you giving her and your children the true companionship of the man they love?" What? It's just a vitamin capsule. With Lipotropic factors no less.

  2. I can't believe people used to fall for all this crap--just like Wisk's "Ring around the collar" song playing over n' over in that poor housewives head!

    Gilligan you should use shame-ads to promote Retrospace! You can use one of those pics from your Bad Fashion blog & say something like "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it--don't become a jive turkey, visit Retrospace!"

  3. Very cool observation, dude. Bet there are tons more of these types of ads out there!

  4. Oh hell, I spent years wondering how my hair smelled during the "Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific" days. I worried about pimples, B.O., oh, and panty lines during the Underalls phase.

    Trust me, these things work on the wimmen folk!!

  5. Man, even the janitor is bailing on the lady in the elevator. She must really stink. She seems like a good sport about it though. I still remember that jingle, "shower to shower each day helps keep odor away".

  6. I LOVE shame ads! Vacutex however, is kinda gross. I very well remember Charles Atlas ads. The one I remember most was the kid who gets sand kicked in his face, then two weeks later he comes back and gives the jerks their due.

  7. Great ads. We have to remember that the bad teeth one was from 1932, before advancements in toothpaste and dental care took off. Can't blame the poor fellow for making bad teeth a dealbreaker!

  8. What, are those guys in the first ad 14 year old girls? I thought that was supposed to be a time when men were men. Two whispering hens send him into a shame spiral? I want to slap all three of them.