LIFE Magazine Volkswagon Ad, 1960
Volkswagen, April 11, 1960 Early in Season 1, Don Draper comes across this Volkswagen ad in an issue of LIFE Magazine. He tells his colleagues he doesn’t know what he hates more, “the ad or the car.” But after discussing Volkswagen's strategy at length, he’s forced to concede, “Love it or hate it, we’ve been talking about it for the last 15 minutes.” VW’s Lemon ad, along with its “Think Small” campaign, was widely considered some of the most innovative advertising of the 20th century for its honesty, irony and freshness.LIFE Magazine
LIFE Magazine Volkswagon Ad, 1960
LIFE Magazine Coca-Cola Ad, 1960
LIFE Magazine Maidenform Ad, 1960
LIFE Magazine American Airlines Ad, 1960
LIFE Magazine Lucky Strike Ad, 1960
LIFE Magazine Playtex ad, 1961
LIFE Magazine Pepsi ad, 1962
LIFE Magazine Lufthansa ad, 1963
LIFE Magazine Bethlehem Steel ad, 1963
LIFE Magazine Samsonite ad, 1963
LIFE Magazine Heinz ad, 1964
LIFE Magazine Acutron ad, 1964
LIFE Magazine Philip Morris ad, 1965
LIFE Magazine Sunkist ad, 1965
LIFE Magazine Honda ad, 1965
LIFE Magazine Ponds ad, 1965
LIFE Magazine John Deere ad, 1967
LIFE Magazine Chevrolet ad, 1967
LIFE Magazine Heineken ad, 1969
Volkswagen, April 11, 1960 Early in Season 1, Don Draper comes across this Volkswagen ad in an issue of LIFE Magazine. H
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19 Real-Life Ads from the Mad Men Era

Apr 02, 2015

On Sunday, Mad Men returns for its final lap around the boardroom table, with just seven episodes to go before Don, Peggy and the Sterling Cooper family ascend to TV heaven. (And just before the sideburns get out of control, too.) Though the show is about advertising, it is, of course, about more. It’s about reckoning with one’s true identity, the fallout from suppressing inner demons, fumbling through parenthood and any number of other themes which have been, and will continue to be, thoroughly hashed out in the Mad Men Think PieceTM.

But the taglines and campaigns developed over tumblers of brown liquor have made for some of the show’s most memorable moments. They’ve cleverly played off real ad campaigns from the 1960s and tapped into the ethos of an era. How, though, do these fictional campaigns compare to the real thing? There’s no better way to answer that question than to hold them up against their real-life counterparts. Here, a collection of real ads that appeared in LIFE Magazine during the 1960s, for the same clients served by Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce — and a few more for good measure.

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