Saturday, February 20, 2016

10 Mid-Century Creepy Clown Ads That Will Make You Laugh (or Scream)

Step right up, folks, and see the clowns pitching everything from Coca-Cola to Zippo lighters. These bizarre vintage ads came from circus magazines from 1943, 1950 and 1956, scanned from my personal collection. Click the images to enlarge.

1. Coca-Cola Pleases Everyone!


Straight and to the point. Except, what does the clown have to do with Coke anyway?

(Source: Shrine Circus program, St. Paul Auditorium, March 5-11, 1956)

















2. Zippo Lighters


Why zip, zip, zip…when one-zip does it? A cigar-smoking clown gives up trying to light up his stogie with a crapped-out cheap lighter as his fellow clown saves the day lighting him up with a giant Zippo. No smoking allowed in the circus tent these days.

(Source: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus magazine & program, 1950 edition)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

3. American Airlines


Oh boy. We are treated to the sight of a clown wedding. Isn’t it sweet and romantic? “Don’t miss it! Watch the clowns get their honeymoon off to a flying start to Mexico.” That bride… is that Ronald McDonald’s mother? Yikes! She’s got hairy arms!

(Source: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus magazine & program, 1950 edition)











4. Johnson’s Foot Soap


This clown has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, so you know he’s safe, even if he looks criminally insane. Once again, the presence of the clown doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the ad, selling a foot soap made from “the old time favorite formula of borax, iodide and bran.”

(Source: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus magazine, 1943 edition)













5. Dr. Scholl’s Zino-pads


Another sore feet ad featuring a clown, from the same 1943 circus program. “You, too, will laugh at corns, callouses and bunions when you use Dr. Scholl’s Zino-pads,” the helpful clown tells us. “As easy to apply as a postage stamp.” Hope that doesn’t mean you have to lick them.

(Source: Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus magazine, 1943 edition)







6. My-T-Fine desserts


“Hey kids! Ask your mom to make you a delicious Chocolate Pudding or Pie,” says the nice clown. “She’ll be glad to give you this special treat…”  If mom thinks the clown’s endorsement is a bit dubious, a post-war housewife reassures her. “My family certainly prefers My-T-Fine chocolate desserts. Yours will too!”

(Source: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus magazine & program, 1950 edition)









7. Nabisco Barnum’s Animal Crackers


“BOY OH BOY! What fun!” The creepy clown shouts “WEEEEEE-ooo-ooo!” as he looks like he is about to crack you over the head with that over-sized animal cracker box. “Baked by Nabisco–National Biscuit Company” the ad says, if you wondered about the origin of that name.

(Source: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus magazine & program, 1950 edition)










8. Necco Sugar Wafers


The Necco (that’s pronounced “neck-o,” by the way) clown stretches his neck high so the giraffe can eat his hat, made of Necco wafers. The stars over his eyes make him look like he’s been punched out.

(Source: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus magazine & program, 1950 edition)
 
 
 
 
 
 

9. Sanka Decaffeinated Coffee


“Being a clown is hard work!” this ad informs us. “Clowns have to be on their toes all the time…they can’t afford to get the jitters and lose sleep…” Therefore, they need to drink decaffeinated coffee, according to this ad, and so should you! This ad appeared in 1943, at the height of the Second World War, so we are told in a line at the bottom to “Buy U.S. War Savings Bonds and Stamps.”

(Source: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus magazine, 1943 edition)








10. Winchester rifles


“Watch for the Winchester clown.” Or else! Do clowns have the right to bear arms? This one looks psychopathic even if he wasn’t blasting a shotgun. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

(Source: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus magazine & program, 1950 edition)