Oct 16, 2012

I Can Haz Vintage Catvertising

Cats in print.

They've been doing it for years in advertising - "catvertising" or "meowketing".

Long before keyboard kitties and LOLcats dominated the digital sphere. Cats (as well as dogs and other little furries) resonate with the domestic audience and pet lovers around the world.

Here's a look back at a select few vintage print ads featuring our feline friends.

Black Cats

Poster for "Cabaret du Chat Noir" Re-opening, Paris, 1896.
The translation of "Chat Noir" from French is "Black Cat" (no surprises there). The above poster advertises the re-opening of the "Cabaret du Chat Noir" in Paris, October, 1896.

Le Chat Noir, 1922.
This is a cover for a French 25 cent weekly journal. which I assume has something to do with knitting. The scrawl of writing below the title reads what looks to be "J'evide les nerf en pelote?" which roughly translates to "My nerves are like a ball of yarn (being toyed with by a cat)".

Lanvin Perfume, "My Sin", 1950's.
This advertising poster was part of a campaign for Lanvin perfume in the 1950's. Here we see the black cat as a symbol of elegance, style and perhaps mystery.

Boucheron, "Black Cat", 1986.
 The black cat in Boucheron's 1980's campaign offers a sense of luxury and desire.

Movado Museum L'Imperiale, Black Cat Example, 1980.
More than a few jewellery brand names used a black cat to help position their brand. Here, Movado uses the picture of a real black cat with silhouetted green eyes.

White Cats

White cats with their bright, fluffy and pristine fur are another frequent feline feature of ads over the years.

Fleetwood Cigarettes, 1943.
They are often portrayed as symbols of purity and innocence and cleanliness - and as can be seen above, even for a brand of smoky cigarettes.

National Society Of Radiators, "Ideal Classic", Italy (Undated)

Gaines Viso, Viso Gürtel, Poster by Von Allmen, 1950.
  Cats (of any color) can also depict royalty, high stature or simply vanity.


The power of cuteness in print.

Packer's Tar Soap, 1906.

The Orgasmatron from The Pink Pussy Cat Boutique, "Xmas", 1975.
I believe the little kitten above on the "Orgasmatron" is purely metaphorical.

Other Kitties
Chevrolet Corvette, "Love Seat", The New Yorker, 19th May, 1956.
I wonder if Chevy picked this cat for the photo purely because its coat matched the leather seats??

Tabby Cats

By the 1980's, tabbies featured quite prominently in ads as the cat for the everyman. Many of these ads weren't particularly special unless you had a tabby of your own you could relate to. They are usually used for cat-related brands and products to display a range of kitty emotions.

Purina, "Happy Cat" Cat Food, 1984.
Happy tabby is happy.

"Kitty Litter Brand" Kitty Litter, 1984.
Sad tabby is sad.

Meow Mix, 1987.
Hungry tabby is hungry.

And Finally...

One of the ads from the original "Mad Men" era that helped to spawn the creative advertising revolution of the 1960's. This ad, featuring a decked out cat, was developed by Bill Bernbach, ad creative guru, from Doyle Dane Bernbach along with Bob Gage (Art Direction) and Judy Protas (Body Copy). Together, they came up with an interesting idea to promote Ohrbach's Department Store to fashion-conscious New Yorkers.

Ohrbach's Department Store, "I found out about Joan", Doyle Dane Bernbach, NYC, 1958.
Headline & Body Copy:

I found out about Joan

The way she talks, you'd think she was in Who's Who. Well! I found out What's what with her. Her husband owns a bank? Sweetie, not even a bank account. Why that palace of theirs has wall-to-wall mortgages! And that car? Darling, that's horsepower, not earning power. They won it in fifty-cent raffle! Can you imagine? And those clothes! Of course she does dress divinely, But really... a mink stole, and Paris suits, and all those dresses... on his income? Well darling, I found out about that too. I just happened to be going her way and I saw Joan come out of Ohrbach's!


  1. This is great! I have to say my favorite is the Movado one. Awesome stuff.

  2. There is a jewelry brand called Fope, I believe, which had an ad with a beautiful woman with luxurious diamonds and a big fluffy cat on her head like a fur hat. Maybe in W magazine.