Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Beer Belongs!" Ad Campaign (1955-1956)

Good morning!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner as our next huge American holiday, I was flipping through a November 1955 issue of Life when I came across this illustration of the traditional family meal by Douglas Crockwell (no joke, that is his real name). Let's see, Aunt Bea-like silver-haired matron? Check! Needlepointed Victorian chairs brought in from the sitting room to accommodate extra guests? Check! Pretty pink china plates and silver service laid out neatly on the table around a gorgeously basted and cooked twenty pound turkey? Check!

Beer? Most definitely check! Look at all the little goblets around the table!

Who...drinks...beer...with their Aunt Bea grandma? WHO? ON THANKSGIVING?

Well, apparently, I'm not a good American, because, as the adline insists, "Beer Belongs-- enjoy it!". But at Thanksgiving? "No beverages are more at home on more occasions than good American beer and ale!" Oh. My bad. According to this article on the history of the campaign, the United States Brewers' Foundation mounted the campaign to bring beer back to the dinner table and the living room and anywhere else you can lawfully crack a pop-top in 1945, and these ads ran through 1956. It's funny because when you think of the fifties', I'm sure lots of people were drinking beer, but just like nowadays, in the post-college era of your life, wouldn't you be more likely to order a cocktail? Or make up a pitcher of palomas if people are coming over? Or a box of wine? Maybe I'm being too Sebastian Cabot/gourmet up in this piece, but it's funny how jarring the addition of a few pilsner glasses outside of a bar seem to an otherwise super midcentury domestic scene!

Take this one, in which skiiers wave merrily to other members of their vacation party who are enjoying the Alpines in a more temperate indoors setting. If you were going to drink something, wouldn't you rather have a hot buttered rum drink? Or eschew alcohol altogether for a hot cocoa? Nah, let's drink beer. In glasses. Because without the cans, no one will know that they're drinking Steel Reserve. I'm obsessed with the red shirted guy in the foreground's interest in that log. Really? SO TWIN PEAKS. I know he's supposed to be starting a fire, but he looks a lot more like he's starting a mindmeld conversation with this hunk of bois.

Now THIS is a more appropriate (albeit no less David Lynchian à la Blue Velvet) setting for beer:

"WE FIXED THE LAWNMOWER! YESSSS!" Additionally, who mows the yard in khakis? My dad doing yard work at my house growing up looked three parts Mad Max Road Warrior and one part Farmer John in  coveralls, aviator prescription sunglasses, military boots, and an assortment of army surplus hats, all covered in a healthy splatter of several different colors of paint, and grass. If someone showed up to your house dressed in what these men think of as casual clothes, you know ONE PERSON at least would be like "What'd ya get all dressed up for?"

Have a beer at the lake! If you don't fear open container laws. How cute is the guy in glasses and rolled up jeans, and how much do I want the gal in the sneakers' swimsuit?

Here, the real star of the ad isn't beer, but PUPPIES. This picture is entitled "Love at First Sight", and in case you missed them on the first go around...

Here are the little guys in close up. Look! Even Jim Backus's heart melts at the sight of spaniel pupsters!

In this one, "Dad Practicing His Speech", Pops holds court in his living room over his future speaking engagement with the Kiwanis. This is not a situation in which beer will help. But I am deeply in love with this living room. The forest green with white accents, the floral spray on the table...I am SOLD. This seems way more 1947 than 1955 to me, but maybe the idea is it's not the most modern of living rooms?

A quiet evening at home? Just the time for a beer! See what I mean about cocktails being more appropriate in terms of glamourous-ness in this setting? If those were Manhattans or gimlets, I'd be on board. Would Katharine Hepburn sit at home and drink a beer? I don't think so. Once again, you may have overlooked the star of this advertisement, so let me zoom in on him for you:


Last but not least, this may be my favorite just based on the popping color scheme. I love the idea of the guy in green saying to his friends on the floor, "Dude, look at this. Does what you're doing look like this? I didn't think so! Shouldn't...move that red over on the right. No, UP and right." Carpet planning while under the influence. Some people. How fun would it be to have a Mondrian style carpet scheme like this, though!

What do you think about a beer-ful Thanksgiving? Do you have any vintage beer ads that make you go "Huh"? Which of these beer situations would you be happiest in?

That's all for today. Make sure you get out and V-O-T-E, and I'll see you guys tomorrow!


  1. I think these people are just looking for an excuse to party.
    New puppies? Time for a raging kegger!
    You want Jim and I to come over and help you pick carpet samples? We're there. We'll bring the beer.

  2. "What'll it be, Mac?"
    "A beer, Sam, and a basket of puppies. Keep 'em comin'. I got troubles."

  3. Back in the day the pop tops were the "pull it, drop it in the can, then choke to death on it" variety. My girlfriend's dad was so safety minded that he made a chain out of his pull tabs that circled the room around and around and AROUND. He used to sit on a little Fender amplifier, play an electric guitar, and drunkenly groan out Elvis. NOT a LIFE magazine scene.

  4. I wish I was a brilliant commercial illustrator; I love these images! I'm not a beer drinker, but the beer/evening needlepoint combo seems so absolutely natural to me.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...