Selling to women through 1960s magazine advertorials

I’m currently writing a chapter on the all-electric house for my book about everyday lives in 1960s Ireland. Past readers of this blog will know that I’m using women’s magazines as a way of establishing trends and expectations. Leafing through the pages of the magazines, a particular type of article recurs: the advertorial. These pieces explored various consumer goods and were accompanied by pictorial layouts of different models. Often the feature also included advertisements from the named manufacturers. A good example of this can be seen in Nuala Murphy’s article for Woman’s Choice (25 March 1969) about her Kelvinator vertical refrigerator. 

Murphy explained to readers that she had been persuaded to invest in a Kelvinator deep-freezer after a particularly cold snap had prevented her from leaving the house. Shopping in such weather, she suggested, was not only difficult but also hazardous. She listed off the multiple benefits of owning the Kelvinator vertical model, providing examples and relating them to her own life in each instance. Her article spoke to the interests of the housewife and to society’s expectations of her abilities.

Woman’s Choice magazine, 25 March 1969

Poor weather aside, the freezer gave women the option to shop less frequently. Not only would this allow them to save time, she explained, but also money. (Prudent financial management was one of the traits expected of ‘good wives’). Murphy explained that there was a whole range of ways that the freezer could be used to save money. Rather than buying chops from the butcher, for example, she could buy half a sheep and freeze the joints for up to twelve months; buying on a larger scale would be more economical, compared to the prices charged for smaller cuts. Similarly, large packets of frozen foods could be bought at considerable savings. The surplus fruit and vegetables that she grew in her garden — like so many women around the country — could also be frozen.

Murphy concluded her ringing endorsement with a brief survey of the other models in the Kelvinator range. Her article was flanked by an advertisement (right) for Kelvinator refrigerators.

While a well-designed advertisement could capture a reader’s attention, allowing them to digest the message within seconds, arguably these types of advertorials had a greater capacity to sell. Written in the style of a woman sharing her experiences, it allowed readers to identify with her daily life, creating a sense of trust that might not be so readily extended to advertisers.

Published by Dr Ciara Meehan

Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire.

One thought on “Selling to women through 1960s magazine advertorials

  1. I often wondered what the green mesh enclosed cabinet was in the garden shed. I discovered, from chatting to my mother, that this was where certain food was stored prior to the arrival of the indoor fridge. I came across a fascinating website recently which discusses these objects among many others.

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