5 Most Popular Vintage Print Ads That Started A New Trend In The Design Industry

Ever since the advent of advertising, the most creative minds have strived to create designs that would appeal to the collective. Art is judged on its universality and so is good design in advertising. The goal, after all, is to convey the message to as many people as possible. Here are 5 examples of renowned vintage print design which have been printed through the traditional method of litho printing. You could also look at some modern and creative print ads for your inspiration.



This famous print from 1917 was created by J.M.Flagg and based on a British poster from three years earlier. He used a modified version of his own face and the pose of a veteran, Walter Botts. Although print ads of the era were usually copy-heavy, this ad needed to strike a chord with the population and convince them to join the war effort. Creating the iconography for Uncle Sam did just that and brought a massive deluge of support for the war effort.

The colour palette used was, in an effort to be nationalistic, kept to three primary bold colors – the colors of the American national flag – red, white and blue. The stark and simple colourful designs were designed to create immediate strong emotional responses. The typography is bold but plain. It was made for mass distribution and the design suited that perfectly. You might also like this awesome collection of vintage typography.



This ad from the 1920s shows the slow shift towards an increased focus on imagery. Percival S.Hill created the slogan “It’s toasted” after a visit to the factory where he noticed the aroma of the tobacco wafting through the halls.

The economy in the volume of copy allowed for more space for the imagery – a large colourful picture of the product and the user – someone the reader will seek to emulate. The slogan is left in bold type and pulls the eye in. The advert would have initially been printed onto paper and plastered around the country, with prints also appearing across a range of publications.

You could have a look at some of the fabulous examples of Lino Printing



In this ad from the 1940s, we start seeing the shift towards a complete focus on imagery. There is great use of color with the stark yellow background drawing you in. A single, iconic image – one that has symbolised feminine empowerment for decades – along with a strong, clear slogan in bold, simple type. This ad was designed to be mass produced, in order to increase the involvement of women in the war effort at home.

Vintage business cards are some kind of a trend now-a-days



Perhaps the most iconic character constructed purely to sell a product, the Marlboro Man was the invention of Leo Burnett, in 1954. Marlboro was considered a feminine cigarette at the time and everything about this ad was meant to suggest masculinity. From the boldness of the font proclaiming the brand to the aggressiveness of the copy. The 1950s also saw a shift towards more of a balance between copy and imagery. Copy was forced to the bottom of the page and limited to a few choice lines, while the imagery hit you in the face with the singularity of its vision – a ragged cowboy smoking a Marlboro.



A watershed moment in ad making. With a tiny budget, Helmut Krone and Julian Koening at the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) agency created one of the most iconic ads of the 60s. When all the other cars were boasting about how big and spacious they were, they decided to go the other way, even reflecting this in the ad. The already small car is made to look even smaller with perspective and a two word slogan perfectly reflecting their pitch.

Automobile ads of the time tended to focus on bombarding the reader with information, but this ad chose to convey a feeling instead, appealing to the heart rather than the mind. This was included in magazines and printed on paper for bus stop ads.

These ads are prized for their effectiveness, and they achieve this through good design. In our age of being constantly bombarded by ads, it truly takes special talent to make one stand out.

Article written by Jonny Rowntree, a freelance writer based in Northern England, currently working with litho printing partner, Elanders UK. In the past, Jonny has worked with The Next Web, Creative Bloq and Branding Magazine.

Jonny Rowntree – who has written posts on Artatm – Creative Art Magazine.

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