Shock Advertisement Critique

November 18, 2008

The Chase and Sanborn advertisement for their ground, pressure packed coffee, is not a surprising image for the 1950’s. However, considering its social and political context and the way an audience would view it now, the advertisement is utterly shocking. The image is of a woman, most assumably a housewife, bent over her husbands knee with his hand raised to spank her. The man is faced away from the camera, while the woman’s horror-filled expression is the focus of the ad. Chase and Sanborn begin the advertisement by stating, “If your husband ever finds out that you’re not ‘store-testing’ for fresher coffee…” This image strongly manipulates the viewer and exhibits several social issues that were relevant within the 1950’s.

The image itself may have been borderline appropriate within the 1950’s, however, from a twenty-first century perspective, the article seems sexist and crude. The viewer within the 1950’s was led to believe that the Chase and Sanborn brand of coffee was necessary for the middle-class housewife in order to avoid beatings from her husband. If the housewife was bold or ignorant enough to purchase anything else than Chase and Sanborn and the coffee did not remain fresh, her husband was likely to give her a good smack. This kind of advertisement could instill fear within the viewer and make them subconsciously associate stale coffee with physical abuse. It also asserts male dominance over women by depicting the physical strength of men over women. 

The image also demonstrates several social issues within the 1950’s. Women were still fighting for social equality within America. The audience that Chase and Sanborn was advertising to was assumed to be housewives, although many women at this time were already within the workforce. Although women were growing progressively more social and political authority within the United States, there was still definite inequality within the workplace and within political representation. Although women could work, it was more appropriate for them to be solely homemakers in order to keep the family unit stable. Male dominance was prevalent and it was media images like the one presented by Chase and Sanborn which continued to exemplify this dominance. Also, because the advertisement depicts a younger couple, the creators were advertising the married youth within America. By targeting a younger audience, the insinuations of the advertisement can continue to persuade families as they age as continue to make the company profit throughout their maturity. 

In conclusion, the Chase and Sanborn article not only advertises coffee grinds, but also violence towards women, male dominance, and defines the role of women as housewives.


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