Can’t Buy Me Love: 100 Years of Valentine Ads

From the obvious (flowers, candy) to the odd (cigarettes, motor oil), marketers have used Valentine’s Day to sell all sort of things.


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  1. These ads really are a pleasure to read. My favorite is the ’27 Elgin watch ad copy. The Monarch coffee ad directly above has that great illustration of 1853 along with 1926. The art deco ’31 Whitman’s chocolate ad is really beautiful.

    I like the art of the World War II (’42) Parker pen ad. The 2 Conoco motor oil ads showing your car some love also. I was surprised at the Marlboro shirt ad. Never associated the name with anything but cigarettes. Is that you Miss America (The queen of the the United States) with a pack of Chesterfield’s in her pocket? Unfortunately, yes!

    The Emily Post Page & Shaw from ’57 is wonderfully mid-century. The artwork of the Whitman’s Sampler from ’63 at the bottom is quite beautiful. Nice simple ad copy at the left, with the open chocolate box and lid to the right.

  2. The Valentine’s ad’s your editor selected for publication were really a pleasure to read. As I scrolled down and enlarged the ad to make it easier to read I realized that most things never change with regards to Valentine’s day. Today we just show our sentiments for the holiday in different vernacular. You can never go wrong with chocolates for the lady of the house.


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