When We Had a Sense of Humor

(Last Updated On: May 3, 2017)

When this ad was first brought to my attention, it was suggested that it might be a fake. It is easy to forget how uptight we have gotten about viewing the human body these days, but with careful analysis, I think it is clear that something like this would not have been that unusual in 1974 Germany.

Elefanten Schuhe Ad (1974)

It is worth noting some of the motivations and circumstances associated with this ad. First of all, this image was meant to convey humor as in “look at how cute and silly these children are!” For those who can understand the text, Elefanten Shoes is advertising the fact that their children’s shoes come in three widths, just like the girls—wide, medium and narrow.

The other thing is that although an ad like this would not have been so out-of-place at that time, still it would not have been used to target the general market. Clearly, this ad appeared in a publication targeting the countercultural demographic with money to spend.

There are certain advantages to using bare bodies to advertise this product. Any clothing might have distracted from the shoes which the company wished to emphasize and there is also a timelessness that would have been lost if the girls were wearing clothing of a particular era and nationality. Clothing would also have obscured the noticeably different figures of the girls as would a calves-down only view which we might see in a more mainstream ad.

So, who out there is going to make a fuss about this ad? And what does it say about our capacity for humor?

6 thoughts on “When We Had a Sense of Humor

  1. German people are open-minded. They’re not very much disturbed with nudity, at least not as much as Anglo-Saxon people.

    • For the most part that may be true. But I think there are plenty of people in every country with sticks up their butts. -Ron

    • Yes, that would probably have been the approach in the US. But remember that even a simple article of clothing like a bikini is subject to the whims of fashion. Also the countercultural/naturist community this was targeting would not have taken this seriously. They would have thought it a feeble attempt to appeal to their demographic and that it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of who they were and what they were about.

    • When first seeing this picture I thought “why has the third girl got her hands folded?” and I think the answer is because the right hand two girls are not different enough in ‘width’ for the effect the advertising team were trying to achieve. Adding panties would also mess up the effect, but would that approach allow the image to be used today? Fully clothed I think the third girl would have to be unnaturally thin to achieve the same effect?

  2. Yes, that picture is beautiful, cute and humorous.
    In today’s Europe, it would probably be unthinkable.
    In today’s America??………….well, even in America THEN it would have not been permitted.

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