Diary: Sexist ways from good old days as HAT study shows women in ads

"Prepare for the un-PC needle to shoot off the dial," Campaign predicted at the news that the History of Advertising Trust's researchers were to publish a study of how the industry has portrayed women down the decades.

Well, they have - and it has.

Women and Advertisers: A Record of Change from the 19th Century to Today may not be the sexiest title around. But the CD-Rom created from material in the HAT archive has enough gems in it to give any misogynist a smile.

The early work recalls a time when men were men and women were supposed to be glad of it. As Michael Cudlipp, the HAT chief executive, says: "It was a period when women couldn't open a bank account and couldn't run a business without male involvement."

Nor did they have the vote. Campaign was amazed by one spectacular piece of crassness from the early 1900s featuring what appears to be a remarkably well-nourished suffragette about to celebrate the end of her hunger strike with a bowl of Plasmon Oats.

Thank heavens the First World War helped put an end to much of this kind of patronising tosh. Indeed, there's a 1928 ad showing a newly emancipated woman being frightfully daring by mowing the lawn ... dressed like a character from an F Scott Fitzgerald novel.

Alas, it wasn't all plain sailing from then on. A 1942 ad for Lever Brothers' Vim household cleaner has a housewife swooning in front of her husband at the saucepans she got as a present ten years earlier still being as good as new.

It inspired us to ask some of Campaign's female staff what they would do with such a gift. We'd like to print the reply, but it sounds an anatomical impossibility.

Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).