Monday, April 14, 2014

Beer Ads in Oshkosh No. 24: Unfunny Beer Cartoons of the 1930s

What we have here today is a good example of the lousy state of beer advertising in the 1930s.

When Prohibition ended in 1933, brewers generally resorted to the same sort of advertising tactics that had worked for them in the past. They spouted off about the quality of their beer, how pure and healthy it was, and how delicious it tasted. That approach no longer worked. Much had changed since 1920 and telling people that you made the sort of beer that their fathers used to drink wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Brewers needed something snappier to draw in those who had spent the previous 13 years swilling bootleg hootch in speakeasies. So they ditched the appeal to reason and went straight for the funny bone. And usually missed.

In the mid-1930s you see all sorts of these very unfunny beer advertisements dressed up as cartoons beginning to appear. Here’s one from Peoples Brewing that was in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of Saturday, November 19, 1938. If this raises a chortle, there may be something wrong with you. As always, click the image to enlarge it... if you dare

What in hell is that supposed to mean? First thing I thought was that the guy in the top hat was a pimp with a limp plan for drawing in customers. He certainly dresses like a pimp and the lady next to him looks none to happy about the situation.  Turns out I was wrong. A week later, Peoples came out with another ad that cleared up the confusion. This one is even less humorous.

See what happened here? Someone in the composing room added the wrong script to the first cartoon. I wonder if anyone even noticed. Or cared.

Want more non-funny beer funnies? Allow me to oblige your demented sense of humor. HERE’s one for the Oshkosh Brewing Company from 1938 featuring the holy trinity of comedy: racism, imminent death and cannibalism. And HERE’s a 1935 ad from Rahr Brewing that is absolutely levity free, though it does recall those grand old days when “Petting Parties” were all the rage. Enjoy.

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