Gendered Advertising

In the 1952 Chase & Sandborn coffee ad, a man sits on a chair, and a woman lay belly down on his thighs. The man has raised his hands to spank the woman on the back, and the woman struggles to free herself. Both the man and the woman are decent, but the man’s attire (suspenders) suggests that he is in the working class. Nevertheless, the ad is disturbing and may have been very controversial if released in the present age. Besides the man and woman’s photo, who are the primary attraction, the heading is very conspicuous. The ad’s caption reads, “If your husband ever found out you are not store-testing for fresher coffee,” and “…if he ever finds you’re still taking chances on getting flat, stale coffee…woe be unto you!” in italics. Therefore, the photo attracts viewing, and the caption cautions the audience before delivering its message.

Figure 1 The 1952 Chase & Sandborn coffee ad

The 1952 Chase & Sandborn coffee ad was meant to promote the company’s coffee through a marketing strategy, which allowed customers to taste coffee before buying it. The ad argues that other coffee companies were not allowing customers to taste, causing them to buy stale coffee. Also, the ad’s caption reveals that it was directed to women by the caption “if your husband ever finds out…” From that, the ad argues in favor of several societal normative in the 1950s. Firstly, the role of women was household chores such as culinary arts – preparation of coffee. Secondly, the man is superior to the woman and that she is subject to his disciplinary actions – the man spanking the woman, and the caption “…woe be onto you!” The ad’s notion is confirmed by the 1950s literature, such as the book To The Bride, which asserts that savvy in culinary arts would ensure a happy marriage (Neuhaus, 1999, p.529). The viewers of the ad in the 1950s understood it well since it aligned with their societal norms. Women viewers were most likely to test the Chase & Sandborn coffee product, to keep their husbands happy or avoid trouble. Therefore, the 1950s domestic ideology in American society was that a man should work to provide for a woman who should care for the man and his household.

Assessment and Conclusion

The Chase & Sandborn coffee ad is among the many ads which have propagated belittling and discrimination of women in the society. In traditional media and advertising, there were conspicuous gender stereotypes, depicting man as superior to a woman. However, recent ads concerning women emphasize the unique identity of women in society and appreciate their capabilities. For instance, the Always “Like a Girl” campaign emphasizes confidence and self-esteem (Always, 2015). The ad is a passive social construction to defy the traditional societal expectations of a woman. Gendered advertising influences the worldview of roles and positions of men and women in society. When used in favor of both genders, society benefits from positive social and cultural construction. For instance, the Always add may motivate more girls into pursuing challenging roles such as military or engineering. In contrast, gendered ads are likely to worsen gender inequality, which is a crisis of the 21st society.

To sum up, the 1952 Chase & Sandborn coffee ad reveals belittling of women, which contrasts with recent ads such as Always “Like a Girl” campaign. The ad depicts a man overpowering a woman who may fail to prepare tasty coffee. It reveals the gendered scenario of the 1950s, where women focused on culinary arts. Currently, gendered ads depict women as confident and with adequate self-esteem to defy gender inequality.


Always. (2015, July 7). Always #LikeAGirl – Unstoppable [Video file]. Retrieved from

Neuhaus, J. (1999). The Way to a Man’s Heart: Gender Roles, Domestic Ideology, and Cookbooks in the 1950s. Journal Of Social History, 32(3), 529-555. doi: 10.1353/jsh/32.3.529