Advertisement from 1950's
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Ads from America's real-life Mad Men

The 1950s and 60s ushered in a new era of American consumerism.

With a booming economy and emerging middle class, the post-World War II era ushered in new ways to establish one's identity through clothing, cars and other material possessions.

Advertising and marketing leaders helped shape the idea of success through Technicolor ads touting the latest must-have gadgets.

The two-volume edition of Mid-Century Ads: Advertising from the Mad Men Era (The Fifties and The Sixties) was produced by TASCHEN publishing and includes hundreds of images.

These ads provide revealing snapshots of the social mores that prevailed in a period when women were more often portrayed as sex objects; cigarettes were promoted by babies as stress relief for "Mom"; and American sun-seekers took to the skies in increasing numbers.

Notably absent from the images presented by conservative advertising executives to middle America in the mid-century are the off-camera images of the United States' cultural revolution.

Feminism, civil rights and peace movements in the 60s took hold, along with the sexual revolution, immigration protests and antiwar violence - all of which changed the country forever.

TASCHEN America's executive editor Jim Heimann describes the images and the role they played in shaping modern culture.

America before the demand for social change steam-rolled over the

social prejudices of the era and propelled the country into a new


Photos courtesy TASCHEN.

Produced for the BBC by Tracy Sutherland

  • 26 Jul 2012