Analysis of 1950s Household Technology Advertisements

Jason Arquette
Professor Hirsh
Blog 5u
September 19th, 2017

Against the backdrop of the 1950s, the general idea of domesticity in America focused upon a woman’s duty to maintain the home while men went off to work. While modern day sentiments regarding this notion would discredit it as a misogynistic and stereotyped version of domesticity, advertisements appearing throughout the 1950s reveal a different story.
Whether they were simple paper advertisements or fully produced video commercials, the singular constant for both was women as a targeted audience.

For instance in 1959 The Hoover Company released a commercial called “It’s a Wonderful World” featuring their newly designed Wet-Dry Vacuum Cleaner. The commercial focuses on a white, middle-aged, woman who starts out by attempting to clean her floors using antiquated cleaning tools. Of course as the commercial progresses, the new Wet-Dry Vacuum by Hoover displays how much easier it would make cleaning. Additionally, there were several paper advertisements that adopted a similar theme in addressing their target audience. For instance, there was an advertisement for an ‘Electrolux’ power cleaner that not only includes a white, middle-aged woman but also attempts to create appeal based on how light the product is. There was also a refrigerator ad by Admiral that endorses their product based upon the aesthetic appeal of the fridge.

Together, these advertisements overwhelmingly point to typically suburban women as targeted audience members. Additionally, the premise of marketability based upon simple aesthetic appeal and making house chores easier displays that household technology advertisements of the 1950s contributed to the idea of domesticity. By gearing these technologies specifically to women it is clear that even the businesses of America understood house chores to be the sole responsibility of women.

Total Word Count: 276

Works Cited:
webdev17. “Wet-Dry Vacuum Cleaner: “It’s a Wonderful World” 1959 The Hoover Company.” YouTube, YouTube, 25 Dec. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqGOkJtaYV4. Accessed 20 Sept. 2017.

“Vintage Household Ads of the 1950s.” Vintage Ad Browser. Accessed September 20, 2017. http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/household-ads-1950s.

  1 comment for “Analysis of 1950s Household Technology Advertisements

  1. hryan
    September 27, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    I’m not seeing from your blog post how these advertisements “reveal a different story” than misogyny and stereotypical domesticity. Are you saying this because advertisers targeted women? I also want to know more about the place of race in this conversation. Why was it important to mention that the Electrolux ad featured a white, middle-aged woman?
    -HR

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