1967 Sony video camera ad promotes sexually spying on women

Nope. Nothin' at all creepy about this vintage Sony "portable videocorder" ad, which ran in Scientific American in 1967. Shared in the Boing Boing Flickr pool by fdecomite. Oh, fine, the "peep" probably refers in the literal sense to birds, not "peeping Tom." But when was the time you saw a guy in a business suit in a tree get that frothed up over a bird's nest? Well played, Sony of 1967, well played.


  1. Yeah, I really don’t see it? All the text goes on about is SERIOUSLY awkward places to get bulky equipment to film. It even mentions the baby birds in the tree.

  2. I’m with the others – he’s just taping a bird’s nest. Sony wanted to show something that made a noise so they could mention the sound recording aspect as well. Sometimes, I’m glad to say, taking pictures of young chicks just means taking pictures of young chicks…in the literal sense. 

  3. Echoing everyone else’s sentiments. He is recording a bird’s nest. It wouldn’t make any sense to target the peeping tom market. Not only would that hurt sales but I imagine very few men actually climbed trees, in reality, to spy on women. 

  4. The only thing I can see that actually supports a subtext beyond what the words imply is the model’s manner of dress and age which, today, would read as overly intense, quiet guy with implied sinister purpose. Who climbs a tree in dress shoes? What business man could ever appreciate baby birds? In movies, pictures & on TV, I am much more used to seeing this kind of behavior (innocent, geeky, interested) tracked with hippie, hipster or at least super casual, outdoorsy attire – on younger, scruffier looking dudes. But I think that’s just how suburban grown ups dressed then. My Dad certainly did, and still does. And yes, it is disquieting to see him doing something like skeet shooting in the backyard in a buttoned up dress shirt and polyester slacks.

    It is also disquieting that, today, just by want of being a grown man up a tree with a camera the ad can come across as creepy. Well that and how much we’ve come to distrust people in dress clothes.

    [sidebar: that last line is a killer corporate promise, “When you come back with everything behind you, it instantly lets you have it all in front of you.” Fuck you Apple. Where’s my reincarnation app?]

  5. Over-thinking it, clearly.

    One odd thing though: who’d climb a tree all dressed up like that? I guess they just wanted to show that only the rich can afford the camera.

  6. 1986 Sony Video 8 ad from Holland.

    The headline translates as:  
    “With the Sony Video8 Pro and some shoe polish you can now compete with the most popular television series”

    The caption on the screen translates as:
    “Our own Cosby Show”


    According to the page the image is from:
    “A complaint was filed against this Sony advertisement with the Dutch Advertising Code Commission.
    The Sony Corp disputed the complaint in a letter saying that the advertisement is “not in bad taste or poor manners”, and that “the Cosby Show itself discriminates, since colored people are the only ones on the show”.
    The Commission decided the complaint was not grounded.”

    1. Stil in bad taste, but keep in mind that blackface was mainly an American phenomena. 

      (Though Europeans used emphasized similar physical traits associated with that ethnicity. )

      1. Well aware of that, as the Dutch Sinterklaas celebration involves a version of Saint Nick whose helpers are known as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). Always portrayed by white Dutch people in blackface, with medieval page costumes.

        It’s still a huge celebration every year. It seems to be more controversial lately, but shows no signs of stopping. 

        In one way, there’s little tradition of blackface or minstrel shows in NL. On the other hand, the tradition of blackface Santa helpers isn’t that old in Holland (maybe dating to 1850, replacing the demon(s) who used to assist him), and is clearly meant as a racial stereotype.

        Possibly the most cringeworthy element is that the Dutch maintain the blackface traditon, but have attempted to sanitise it in recent years by claiming that Piet’s skin is blackened by soot, from going down chimneys.

  7. I thrive on subtext more than most, and I will over-analyze everything into the ground, but I see no reason, whatsoever, to assert that this ad is suggesting anything sexual. 

    I can see how one might be triggered by the word “peep” today, but all I can think of is how my parents (who were in their early 30’s in 1967) would consistently use “peep peep peep” as the onomatopoeia for the cries of baby birds and chicks (whereas today, we would more commonly use “chirp” or “tweet”). Yes, the “peep show” and “peeping Tom” existed back then, but there seems to have been far more heteronymous ambiguity then, regarding the word “peep,” than there is now.

    Also, we forget how relatively-formal wardrobe was forty years ago, compared to today. Plus, if you could afford a piece of $1250 technology in 1967 (which would be over $8000 today) just to keep video record of your idiosyncratic bird-watching hobby, then you could probably afford to climb a tree in your dress pants, polished shoes, and crisp button-down shirt.

    1. No it isn’t. You need to work in one more ‘e’ and ‘r’.

      Sony Portable Videorecorder
      abcddeeeeilnooooprrrrstvy = sonyportablevideorecorder
      So, Celebrity Porn Ad? Do Over
      abcddeeeilnooooprrrstvy = socelebritypornaddoover

  8. Is this a frigging joke? That’s a normally dressed, well-off man recording birds.  The ad is from 1967 – not everyone felt the need to dress like summer camp when off work.

  9. Context is king.  Considering this ad ran in Scientific America, I think Xeni is reading too far into the meaning, possibly projecting alittle of herself…??? ;-)   This guy is clearly a professional, nerdish, gagdet guy, indulging his bird watching hobby after a long day at work. 

    Now if this ad was from a ’67 copy of Playboy or Hustler, I think she’d be dead on accurate.

  10. Here’s a much more modern advert which isn’t quite as creepy (if the one from this post is actually suggesting spying through people’s windows), although it is less ambiguous. Gizmodo: “It’s extremely rare to find a tasteful ad campaign that uses sex and clever humor to perfectly define the qualities of a technology product. This series of print ads for Omax wide-angle lenses is one of them”

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