10 Commercials That Wouldn’t Fly Today

3 min readDec 6, 2022

Cigarette commercials were lethal, but imaginative.

Photo by Angela Loria on Unsplash

While I write, I often listen to or watch YouTube. Occasionally something really gets my attention. I saw some old TV commercials that wouldn’t see the light of day in today’s world. In large part, many of them were cigarette commercials, but others had different issues. Things like racial stereotypes and sexism were definitely in vogue back in the 50s and 60s.

In short, it looks like some work that Don Draper and his crew would have produced. Here is a quick stroll down memory, courtesy of old school ad agencies.

1: ‘I am the Frito Bandito.”

Back in the day, the Frito Bandito was an appealing cartoon character who sang a catchy jingle. He also sold a lot of corn chips. Today he spends his time in exile with his cousin, Speedy Gonzalez.

2: The Marlboro man wasn’t the only thing that sold Marlboros.

Packaging also helped. Some Marlboro commercials featured Marlboros in a flip top box. They were sort of reminiscent of a coffin. Maybe that was a harbinger of truth in advertising.

3: With Johnny 7 your kid could be a one-man army.

The Johnny 7 OMA (One Man Army) was the number one selling toy in 1964. It seemed sort of like a Rambo starter kit. The ad showed one kid putting other neighborhood kids on the run due the superior firepower of Johnny 7. This toy allowed kids to not only play army, but also arms dealer and highest bidder.

4: Fred Flintstone smoked Winstons.

Apparently, fire was discovered so early man could light a cigarette. Wait, that’s totally bogus.

5: The Kool Aid Kids spread the image of ugly Americans all over the world.

Wherever the Kool Aid Kids went, their Kool Aid addiction went with them. They couldn’t even manage to scarf down a meal without Kool Aid. The coolmercial (see what I did there?) I saw featured stereotypical Japanese people that would have made Mickey Rooney blush.

6: It’s Chesterfield cigarettes…




You probably don't know my name, but have likely seen my work. I'va written for numerous syndicated cartoon strips and my gags have appeared in national pubs.