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1972: “Smoking is Very Glamorous” poster #TBT #ThrowbackThursday

Posted by Tom Megginson | 19-06-2014 21:10 | Category: Vintage


This poster hung in the teacher’s lounge in my elementary school, almost 40 years ago. All I can remember about that room is that it was always full of smoke.

American Cancer Society
V&A Collection

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This vintage SeaWorld PSA shows how much things have changed   #tbt #throwbackthursday

Posted by Tom Megginson | 12-06-2014 19:13 | Category: Vintage

This vintage SeaWorld PSA shows how much things have changed

Before Blackfish, before PETA’s anti-SeaWorld campaigns, “Shamu” was the beloved (if captive) star of SeaWorld’s family entertainment. So of course it made sense, in the early 1980s, to feature Shamu and various anthropomorphic sea mammal friends in a kid-friendly PSA:

National Safety Council (USA)

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1970s: “National Drinking Game” PSA says alcohol dependence isn’t funny #TBT #throwbackthursday

Posted by Tom Megginson | 15-05-2014 19:27 | Category: Vintage

1970s: National Drinking Game PSA says alcohol dependence isn't funny

Here’s an old PSA that’s actually pretty good: “National Drinking Game” by the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism:

National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism
">Internet Archive

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1970s: American Cancer Society begins the long fight against tanning #TBT #throwbackthursday

Posted by Tom Megginson | 8-05-2014 14:18 | Category: Vintage

1970s: American Cancer Society begins the long fight against tanning

I’m old enough to remember when we weren’t taught to fear overexposure to the sun. As a pale, Anglo-Canadian child in the ‘70s, I believed that the occasional sunburn was just part of summer. By the ‘80s, when I was a teen, I would start trying to get a tan on warmer days in April and May.

And why wouldn’t I have? This was the typical skincare advertising of the day:

1970s: American Cancer Society begins the long fight against tanning

But the idea that tanning, like smoking, is a major cancer hazard was already on the radar of social marketers in the 1970s. See a vintage ad from the American Cancer Society, below:

American Cancer Society
Vintage Fanatic

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David Lynch vs litter

Posted by Reuben Turner | 27-01-2014 12:14 | Category: Environment, Vintage


Why don’t more amazing film-makers get to make ads about social causes (or just things that bother them)? This, from 1991, is David Lynch’s supremely disturbing TV ad about littering. I would love to have been at that meeting.



New York
Not known
Boing Boing

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80’s Muppetesque anti-drug ad: “We’re not candy”  #vintagePSA

Posted by Tom Megginson | 8-03-2013 03:32 | Category: Vintage

80's Muppetesque anti-drug ad: We're not candy

It’s like Jim Henson’s Muppets and The Hamburger Patch from McDonaldland had babies, and those babies were some parent’s prescription meds:

What the hell? From Laughing Squid:

This 1983 public service announcement from the Long Island Regional Poison Control Center stars high-pitched talking and singing blue puppet pills who warn of the serious effects of unbottled prescription drugs that look like candy. Incidentally, rapper Busta Rhymes uses lyrics from this PSA in his 1997 song, Dangerous.

Sometimes I really wish I was 30 years older, and could have made PSAs in that era.



Long Island Regional Poison Control Center
Laughing Squid

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A look back at some classic AIDS prevention campaigns #worldaidsday

Posted by Tom Megginson | 1-12-2012 16:23 | Category: Vintage


It’s World AIDS Day today, December 1. To mark the occasion, Buzzfeed’s Stacy Lambe has shared a collection of creative AIDS prevention ads from past years, taken from the AIDS Education Posters Collection curated by the University of Rochester. I’ve shared a few of my favourites here, but it’s worth visiting the original post for the full collection with sources. Unfortunately, there are no credits. Feel free to add them in the comments. (PS: I am aware of the works of Keith Haring.)


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Madonna rocks the vote, 1990-1992

Posted by Tom Megginson | 6-11-2012 20:38 | Category: Vintage

Madonna rocks the vote

Rock The Vote is an American not-for-profit that urges youth to register and vote in elections. Founded in 1990, the organization got its original push from PSAs starring Madonna that were played heavily on MTV.

It appeared the same year as Madonna’s video for the song “Justify My Love” was banned for its sexual content, and two years before her explicit coffee table book, Sex, was published. The young, saucy and silly Madonna of 22 years ago seems ages away from the mature songstress today. (Who was recently booed in New Orleans for endorsing President Obama during a concert.) But the campaign was successful — by 1992, election polls that year showed a 20% increase in youth turnout over the 1988 election, ending a declining trend in young Americans’ democratic participation.

Rock The Vote

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Postcards from another time when powerful men feared women voters

Posted by Tom Megginson | 5-11-2012 15:15 | Category: Vintage


Tomorrow, American voters will decide the direction their country will take for the next four years. One of the major themes of the election has been women’s rights. In the “swing states” that likely will decide which party wins, a Gallup poll demonstrated that male and female voters have very different political priorities. Women’s top concerns included “abortion,” “equal rights/pay/opportunity” and social services, issues that didn’t even show up on the men’s list. Both genders are — obviously — especially concerned with the economy, but “abortion” beat out “jobs” on the women’s list. The mobilization of women voters tomorrow could have a lasting effect on the world.

But 100 years ago, most western democracies did not allow women to vote at all. This collection of early 20th century postcards, curated by Retronaut, illustrates the intense anxiety felt by the male-dominated society about the Suffragette movement that was gaining momentum in Great Britain, the United States, and around the world.


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‘80s cartoon characters talk about “bad touching”

Posted by Tom Megginson | 3-10-2012 21:34 | Category: Vintage


Every once in a while, we look back in time to feature vintage PSAs that remind us how much more sophisticated (or not) social marketing has become over the years.

Today’s flashback is a PSA created as a supplement to the 1980s cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It features the eponymous hero, his twin sister She-Ra, and the inevitable comic relief mascot. The siblings deliver a message about inappropriate touching (child sexual abuse) and encourage victims to report it

(See the PSA after the break.)

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Osocio is dedicated to social advertising and non-profit campaigns. It’s the place where marketing and activism collide. Formerly known as the Houtlust Blog, Osocio is the central online hub for advertisers, ad agencies, grassroots, activists, social entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans from around the globe.
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