For years, Prudential Insurance’s advertising promoted the company’s rock-solid dependability with its Rock of Gibraltar trademark. But in the 1920s, it began emphasizing the dangers of being uninsured, graphically illustrating the fates that could await customers who let their life insurance lapse.
One ad portrayed a small boy shivering on a street corner, trying to sell papers in the midst of a pounding snowstorm — all because he’d been orphaned by parents who never bought life insurance. Another showed a rapidly aging widow barely supporting herself by sewing because a caregiver “had failed in his imperative duty.”
This series of frightening ads ran from 1926 to early 1930. With the advent of the Depression, Prudential backed away from its scare tactics. Americans of the 1930s no longer had to be reminded how uncertain life could be.
Here is a look back at some of the more frightening scare tactics Prudential used in ads that appeared in the Post during the 1920s.
This article is featured in the July/August 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.