Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beer Ads in Oshkosh No. 9: That’s Not Supposed to be Hitler, Is It?

Here’s a beer ad that’s brimming with bad taste. And that miserable pun at the heart of it (“Wurtzer Beer cops da prize”), is just the beginning. 

As I mentioned in last Tuesday’s post about Peoples Beer, the people at Peoples Brewing in Oshkosh were looking to distance themselves from the implied associations that came with naming their flagship brand, Wurtzer Brew, after a German city. At the time, Adolf Hitler and his Nazis were making all sorts of ugly noise in Europe. Stateside, having a Teutonic moniker was now the sort of thing that earned dirty looks from beer drinkers with a jingoistic streak. At Peoples they began downplaying the whole Wurtzer thing starting in 1935, but in this ad from 1938 it looks like they’re backpedaling from their backpedaling. 

Tell me, who does that traffic cop remind you of? And that pose? You’d have to be nearly blind to miss the similarity, especially in 1938. Was this just an unfortunate coincidence, or was it possibly a sinister joke? I’d love to know.

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