Vintage sexist coffee TV commercial

The last time I saw this commercial was over 40 years ago. Even as a wee tyke, I remember thinking, "That man sure is a shithead." (via Retro Thing)


  1. “You know, if I could just make a decent cup of coffee I could relax.” It is to LOL. Classic.

  2. uh, yeah — the way to get a man to love you is to get him hooked on a drug only you can provide.

  3. “We’ve secretly replaced this woman’s husband with a jackass. Let’s see if she notices.”

  4. The really horrible hideous thing is that I knew what brand off coffee it was before they said it. The name just popped into my head, like the unspoken word of god.

    I’ve been pwned! Fortunately by advertisers for a product I was too young to buy then, and have no interest in buying now.

  5. Aside from the gender thing (love the adultery subtext), it’s interesting because it’s trying to convince people to use a more processed product that in reality tastes markedly inferior – instant v. freshly brewed.

    Sometime around when my boyfriend started roasting his own coffee (in a popcorn popper no less), I remember seeing a vintage ad from, I think, a nineteenth century periodical, in which one woman lauds the benefits of buying pre-roasted coffee to her friend – you can’t the roast as perfectly even as industrially-roasted coffee beans, some end up burnt, something to that effect. Never mind that buying pre-roasted coffee means that you’re losing all the delicate flavors that quickly evaporate.

    I would have expected the marketers to sell the inferior products on the virtue of them being labor-saving in both instances – but no, they’re selling them as being superior products, both times!

  6. For some reason this reminds me of the current commercial for the tax preparers where the wife asks the husband to ask the box for advice. I always think “Man, she’s being a (not nice person)…”.


  7. @ #7: Yeah, that’s one of the things I loved about this commercial… you could actually look at it like she’s getting back at her jerkwad husband by giving him shitty instant coffee.

  8. Mark- you’re in your 40’s? Wait, nearly old enough to be my father? This throws all my pre-conceived notions about the authors of this site out the window-

  9. I must be having a Tufnel day because I read the headline as “Vintage sexy coffee TV commercial.”

  10. Percolated coffee or instant coffee … that’s a tough decision.
    I’m having Midwestern Lutheran flashbacks.
    Quick, someone get me a cruller.

  11. As a coffee “enthusiast” (read: snob) myself, my reaction to that commercial is pretty blatant: “Bitch better get me some half-decent coffee or I’m busting out the strap! Of course, if she gives me Folger’s crystals, I’m leaving her for one of the girls at the office.”

    Seriously…do you have any idea how AWFUL Folger’s Crystals taste? *Shudder* Starbucks is nothing to write home about, but, damn, I’d sooner drink that than Folger’s crystals!

  12. Draymorton – me too… “Well, sure, it’s a sexy commercial, but I don’t know if it’s the *sexiest* commercial”

  13. Woo, she went all out for Harvey’s b-day. Coffee!

    Of course, now they have to decide which twin bed to have sex in this year.

  14. “Aside from the gender thing (love the adultery subtext), it’s interesting because it’s trying to convince people to use a more processed product that in reality tastes markedly inferior – instant v. freshly brewed.”

    Technology was all the rage. This kind of thing was pretty common.

    The man is a jerk, but since his wife’s self-esteem depends on him not whining about a commodity, she’s no great shakes, either.

  15. Sexist? Isn’t this the “communication” that all women want??

    That’s what they SAY anyway?

    Hahahaha! When guys actually TELL you their feelings, they are sexist assholes!


  16. I’m fairly certain that the man in the commercial is film and Broadway star John McMartin, and the brunette is the late Grayson Hall, star of the original “Dark Shadows!”

  17. Definitely not Grayson Hall, who also played the lesbian teacher in Night of the Iguana. Grayson Hall had a gravelly baritone. Plus, she’d be much older.

  18. I don’t doubt that the instant tastes just as good as the percolated coffee – they both taste HORRIBLE.

  19. @25: I imagine it’s the idea that a man can talk to his wife THAT WAY (being a jerk, there’s a big difference between saying “I don’t like this coffee, could we try another brand?” and what HE said), that the ad assumed the woman would be making the coffee, and just the general gender roles. It IS from the 1950s, though. Anything from the first half of the last century was pretty much automatically racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally Not Nice. All that happy reminiscing is mostly rose colored rearview mirrors.

  20. Has anyone else seen the Digiorno’s commercial that’s been running the last month or so? It’s pretty bad. The guy yells at his wife over the phone so he can look macho in front of his buddies. He’s pretending that he’s yelling at the delivery guy, but still. “Chop chop!” Blurg.

    In a lot of ways, we haven’t come a long way, baby.

    Sorry the quality is so crappy, it’s the best I could find on the tubes.

  21. Is it just me or does that guy look slightly like Bruch McCullough?

    If by Bruch McCollough, you mean, “A Dick”, then, you sir, are correct!

  22. Unicorn chaser, please. Both for the coffee and the shithead drinking it. Or, rather, the shitheads who wrote this.

  23. @ Jamin, 33:

    HOLY CRAP. That was one fucking offensive commercial. I love how they paired the fat slob with a gorgeous, thin blonde wife. The “You know I hate it when you do this” line was pretty much jaw-dropping. Bonus: the nonchalant way that the friends react when she reveals that she “delivered” the pizza and the way she throws up her hands in disgust.


  24. Putting the content aside (yes, ‘Harvey’ is an asshat), I found this commercial riveting because the actors were actually acting and the whole thing was scripted like a play, with a story.

    By contrast, most ads today are like having the product thrown in your face (three times, just so you remember), and they’re populated with advozombies who are JUST… WAY… TOO… EXCITED.

    Of course the subtext here is horrible and manipulative, but at least it feels like they hired writers and tried to tell a story, rather than deliver a hypnotoad blipvert.

  25. @2 — Ever see the movie “The Road to Wellville”?

    “Another of the main characters, Will Lightbody, unwittingly becomes addicted to Sears’s White Star Liquor Cure. He has a chronically upset stomach, and the tonic his physician prescribes has alcohol as the main ingredient. Will’s wife, in a desperate attempt to cure his alcoholism, surreptitiously slips “the cure” into his evening coffee–the active ingredient being opium.”

    That’s love.

  26. Tom @6: Me too. I was hoping maybe I’d been cued by a glimpse of the jar shape, but that’s almost as pathetic.

    Apart from the obvious nauseating nature of the “doormat” relationship, I’m put off by the overacting in their voices. It’s comparable to the cloying unseen spokesvoice for many schlock products, that sound like they’re having a joygasm over “shrinky dinks” or the “roly poly” or the plastic rug full of wildflowers. When I was scripting the hold messages for work, we replaced somebody who had that kind of inflections in favor of a more down-to-earth, less fatiguing way of talking.

    It’s like those PEOPLE who WRITE COMMENTS with EVERY SECOND OR THIRD WORD in ALL CAPS. Reading their stuff is like listening to Dora the Explorer.

  27. Fear has been, almost since the beginning of ads, a really popular psychological ad device. Fear of displeasing or losing your spouse, fear of being a “bad mom/dad/wife/husband,” fear of not being as good as someone else, etc. This ad, while clearly abhorrent by modern standards, is pretty mild when compared, for example, to the Luck Strike ad that told women, “To keep that girlish figure, reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.” There’s enough good, psycho meat in that sammich to chew on for a decent senior thesis.

    Coffee ads have featured things like a dad losing his job because he couldn’t stay awake without coffee and another husband/dad losing out on a promotion because his wife served “the wrong brand” at a dinner party.

    On the flip side, Postum, a non-caffeinated brew, featured an ad where a kid who drank coffee did badly at school because of his addiction and inability to concentrate.

    My favorite fear ad, though, has to be “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” one of the first major campaigns for Listerine in which they introduced that term. Poor Edna… as she approached that critical 30th birthday, all her friends were getting married. And though she was as pretty and charming as they… she remained always a bridesmaid, etc. Since she had halitosis. Which, the ad informs you, you don’t even know if you have, since you can’t smell your own breath.

    Based on this campaign, Listerine sales went from $100,000 a year to $4 million a year in less than 8 years. Listerine didn’t invent mouthwash; they invented bad breath. Fear, fear, fear.

    Brilliant. Evil. Brilliant.

  28. It could be the romantic in me, but I really wanted Harvey’s wife to spike his next cup of coffee with bleach.

Comments are closed.