Dartmouth's Mad Men
On the critically acclaimed television show “Mad Men,” the fictional character Pete Campbell is a Dartmouth alumnus. While the often loathsome Campbell is not the most flattering depiction of a Dartmouth graduate, there were plenty of Dartmouth alumni who went to work in advertising in the sixties. On campus, students were exposed to plenty of the fruits of Madison Avenue’s labor as well as more local ads. In honor of our Madness issue, The Mirror takes a look at advertising at Dartmouth in the time period of “Mad Men.”
The Mirror searched through the ads run in The Dartmouth in the sixties and found exactly the sort of slogans and sex appeal you’d expect from Don Draper and the men on Madison Avenue. These ads targeted a Dartmouth community before the College became a coeducational institution, and companies certainly tailored their ads to a stereotypical male audience.
Car ads took up plenty of space on the paper’s pages, showcasing all the gleaming new models available. These ads invited students to local showings of new models, promised the best repair services and offered the best prices and newest features. Considering just how many ads for cars were featured during this time, it’s no surprise that a few safe driving PSAs made it into the paper as well. Many PSAs warned drivers to wear seat belts and to drive carefully to avoid life-changing accidents.
Other frequently advertised products included tobacco, tobacco pipes and alcoholic beverages. Budweiser, Carlsberg and Ballantine Ale were all advertised in The Dartmouth. One Budweiser series highlighted the “seven golden keys to brewing Budweiser,” and another gave tips on how to best enjoy their beer. A Ballantine ad implored readers to “Graduate from beer. Graduate to Ballantine Ale.” Advertisements for sales at the Dartmouth Smoke Shop ran alongside ads for Sutliff Tobacco Company’s Mixture No. 79. While ads for the Co-op, Sperry and Champion regularly noted particular sales, many ads for clothing and grooming supplies promised to transform buyers into trend-setting chick magnets. A series of ads for Adler’s socks featured photos of young men and women wearing white tube socks while having, what appeared to be, the times of their lives. In one, a man in socks rode a moped with a beautiful woman behind him while smoking a pipe. In another, a couple literally swung from a chandelier, wearing evening clothes and Adler’s “indomitable” white socks.
Many of these ads focused on their product’s ability to increase men’s power and sex appeal. Jaguar after-shave was “only for the man who gets a bang out of living, a charge out of leading — who plays to win, whatever the game.” Another ad asked, “Does a man really take unfair advantage of women when he uses Mennen Skin Bracer?” Code-10 hairdressing bore a slogan worthy of early Don Draper — “It’s invisible, man!” — and promised to give users a look that “inflames women, [and] infuriates inferior men.”
One particularly self-aware ad for Lee Leen pants showed a young man looking proud and confident while three moon-eyed ladies cling to him. The tagline read, “He didn’t change his hair cream or his mouthwash or his deodorant… He just started wearing Lee Leen pants.”
Others tried to take more direct advantage of Dartmouth’s captive population of single young men. An ad from a company called Pussycat Puzzle showed a puzzle of a topless woman with pieces missing in suggestive locations and promised “an enticing reward” for anyone who completed the 500-piece puzzle.
A May 1968 ad hawked a vacation package to Hilton Swingles Week in San Juan, promising travelers a chance to dance, dine and water ski with fellow “single swingers,” for as little as $145. It included the image of a bikini-clad beauty with the caption, “Take me along, plus student ID cards, for six free rum punches on your Swingles Week in San Juan.”
Another ad promoted a new computer dating service that matched people with five “ideal dates” using a $3 questionnaire processed through the company’s “high-speed computer,” an early precursor to dating services like OkCupid and Match.com.