Blast from the Past

A lighthearted look at our industry’s storied history.

Gone are the days of leaning back in your office chair and yelling to your coworker in the adjoining office or cubicle. With an increasing number of employees telecommuting to work, a text message or e-mail is the modern day version of “yelling across the proverbial holler.”

And while technological advances have moved us to a more efficient and effective workplace, some of the things we’ve left behind seemed to have made sense. Look no further than the styles of Mad Men – two-button suits with small lapels, peg pants and skinny ties vs. the corporate Seattle Grunge look of today.

Another product of a bygone business philosophy is the plant shutdown, basically forcing a vacation on employees. Today’s rat-racers are all about work, work, work and being constantly connected. I know a distributor, who after six years without taking time off, went on a cruise with her frustrated fiancée only to end up selling the cruise line napkins and coasters.

But, as I peruse the pages of June Counselor from Don Draper’s era, I see company after company listing the two weeks they’d be closed over the summer. Two weeks! In today’s business climate, most companies require a special dispensation for that amount of time. But perhaps they had it right. A relaxed worker is a more engaged and eager worker, right?


Come to the county fair and see the giant ant at the chemical exhibit. Nothing to worry about folks, it’s safe, so said the 50-foot man. The following year the same image had a balloon imploring people to see the flowers at the garden exhibit. Don’t do it people, there are chemicals buried there. From 1974

You’ll be “lips” for this bonus? You’ll be “kiss” for this bonus? You’ll be “mouth” for this bonus? Please, somebody help me out, I don’t get this picto-gram. From 1977

Lyndon Pearson is getting an award from Sam Goldman, but what I love about this picture is that Pearson is wearing a cocktail glass around his neck. A real product from back in the day. The slogan was, “Why hold your drink when you can wear it?” I’m sure more than one person ended up “wearing” their drink. From 1971


This art accompanied an article titled “A Look Into the Not Too Distant Future,” which was a forecast of the ad specialty industry in the ’70s. But check out the guy in the middle with the dark glasses. He seems to be amused by the speaker and the guy behind him with his hand on his head is thinking, “My word, when is this hell going to be over?” From 1965


Look at that secret decoder ring. Do you think the secret message was “Buy lots of Attaché pens”? From 1970