It’s Black Friday. Here Are Some Advertisements From the Great Depression

People are out buying stuff today. Lots of people. Lots of stuff. Stay safe, people.

Seems like reason enough to publish these advertisements from the Nov. 1934 edition of Fortune magazine. Yep, that’s right in the heart of the Great Depression. I was able to thumb through this old issue over the last week. The issue is loaded with a whole bunch of New Deal-related content, in fact, with big-time advocacy for public works projects across the country.

It’s also just an awesome artifact in general, especially to me, as I am a hybrid history buff and business journalist. It is a big, fat magazine with strong, durable pages, and so freaking much advertising, harkening back to a day when you could make money publishing. Alas!

Anyway. The ads.

Fortune, of course, aims to reach those with money (hence the name). So the Depression doesn’t really seem to have an effect on the way these products were marketed. Case in point:


Let’s take a tour.

So it’s flowers you’re after, eh? Here’s what you gotta do. Tell your husband to buy you this stove, then use this stove, and then the flowers will be YOURS!


I’d just want the elephant.


Though I wouldn’t say no to an accordion.


I get romanticizing American industry. I just don’t get how that jives with making it look like Hades.



The battle rages on!


Just keep smokin’ em, you’ll love them eventually. Really guys. The more you smoke ’em, the more you’ll love ’em. Seriously why aren’t you smoking yet?


Of course, the real good stuff is reserved for the back cover.


Alright. Let’s get going with those real luxury items. The cruises, the cars, and — of course — the booze.





Fortune 19


A trivia question. How did Jameson become the king of whiskey? Through the time-honored selling tradition: If you don’t like us, you’re stupid! (Almost literally.)

Fortune 18