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80 years of Vintage Celebrity Ads • • •

It takes more than talent to have a long career in Hollywood, and our beloved stars of past and present have turned to many a lucrative endorsement deal to pump up their incomes and their images. Selling everything from fur coats to furniture to face cream, many of these ads have shaped our popular culture and influenced trends for decades. 

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Entries in Pony (1)


Olympic Ad Fever!

It's that time again - your bi-bi-annual (yeah, I made it up) time for the endless barrage of Summer Olympic advertising and promotion. Now that we're able to live stream the Olympics 24/7 - there are more and more and more opportunities for the Olympians to make a buck. Expect a steady stream of athletic endorsements this fall - it's an Olympic tradition after all. Here's a sampling of Olympians, and Joe Namath, schlepping everything sporty from deodorant to sneakers.

First up is Mark Spitz, the hunky mustachioed speedswimmer strutting his stuff in this French ad for Arena swimsuits. He's gonna show us what "goes into" one of those suits - okay, maybe just what goes into "making" one. Either way, that is one swanky seventies swimsuit. I can totally see Jack Tripper rockin' that at the beach. lol.

On to the 1976 Olympics - Joe Namath teamed up with Brut 33 Deodorant to help you cash in on Olympic fever... that's right, I said YOU! Evidently you could win up to $33,000 for in one of 1333 prizes awarded for guessing how many medals the USofA would win. What if more than 1333 people guessed it right? This sounds like a scam.... or maybe I'm just jaded from 30+ years of scams. Either way, one could still score some groovy Olympic swag like a beach towel, calculator (with AC adaptor!) or binoculars. 

The eighties ushered in a new era of Olympic favorites like figure skater Tai Babilonia, and gymnasts Cathy RigbyBart Conner and Mary Lou Retton. Cashing in on her fame from the 1980 Olympics, Cathy Rigby reached out to her preteen fans to help them learn about dealing with their pesky periods. I was 12 in 1982 - and I remember these ads vividly. I remember thinking what a crock of crap they were - really, maxi pads in a leotard? I don't think so! In this series of Stayfree Maxi-Pad ads, Ms. Rigby shares gems of her experience and insight such as, "When you wear leotards in front of a million people, you want protection you can trust", "Some women never have to think twice about menstrual odor", and the classic "Right now I need all the comfort I can get." You're a lot of help lady, really!



In 1985, pint-sized Mary Lou promised the "Built to win" merits of Pony sneakers by ensuring "There's no such thing as a graceful loser." So, I guess Pony is trying to say that the shoes are graceful, and since there is no such thing as a graceful loser, it's ensured you can't lose in these shoes? I'll buy it I guess. They're all kinds of 80s aerobic ugly though. BTW, graceful isn't exactly the word I'd use to describe Mary Lou - powerful, fast, compact, and bouncy all sound a little more accurate. 

While Ms. Retton was worrying about her feet, and Ms. Rigby was all caught up with her bodily functions,  Bart Conners and Tai Babilonia were showing off the good stuff. Figure skater Tai flashes her blue-jeaned behind in this Lee Jeans ad from 1980something. Man, those pink tights and high heels look ridiculous with those ankle-length high waisted jeans. Don't get me wrong... I had those jeans... but I was most likely wearing them with those ugly Ponys from above.

To represent the more masculine gender, in 1988, Bart Conner decided to skip the accessories altogether and get straight to the foundation of his success, his true blue American Jockey underwear. Go USA! According to Bart, and I quote,

Men don't have to be tall dark and handsome to enjoy the comforts of Jockey underwear. They can also be short, blonde and suave.

Well, alrighty then. You better hope you're suave if you plan on pulling off that look, boys... 

The 1990s brought us much cooler advertising like these spots from Ray Ban sunglasses. In 1996, super speed freak (wait, that doesn't sound right) Michael Johnson leads this pack of fleet footed, Ray Banned athletes including track and field superstars the likes of Jackee Joyner Kersee, Gwen Torrence and Dan O'Brien. High end photography, cool product, and superhuman sports stars = winning combination. "Take a good look" and see for yourselves.