The Mad Men of Madison Avenue Get Real

1970 teen and 1950s  housewife

Like many parents in 1970, the gulf between Mad Men’s rebellious Sally Draper and her uptight and out of touch parents has grown as wide as the Grand Canyon, that great natural chasm  that Sally might visit on her summer teen tour.

At the same time, the real Mad Men of Madison Avenue were working overtime to close that generation gap by producing ads that appeared “relevant,” distancing themselves from the cop-out generation that produced war, prejudice and greed.

If the free-thinking generation of anti establishment kids didn’t dig uptight Madison Avenue, then Madison Avenue had to show them they could get down and “tell it like it is.”

1960s coloring in the lines

No more coloring in the lines. By 1970 the grey flannel suit gave way to the powder blue leisure suit, as advertising itself was swinging to a different beat .

By 1970 Madison Avenue went on a teen tour of its own to attract the youth market.

By donning their colorful silk neckerchiefs and groovy bell bottoms the creative ad men assured their clients that their agency was tapping into the cultural zeitgeist, keeping it real by shifting their focus to the groovy, individualistic now generation of consumers.

1970 Identity Crisis

Sportcasters Shoes sent out an SOS to the reader to help them through their “identity crisis” by offering a name for their new line of fabulous fall shoes. 1970 ad

At times it seemed the manufacturers were having their own identity crisis.

Trying desperately to bridge the generation gap, these middle-aged men sporting mutton chops and Fu-Manchu mustaches in order to appear hip, shamelessly sought out the youth market with sometimes laughable results as they attempting to make their establishment products hip to the very anti establishment, anti materialistic teenagers committed to doing their own thing.

Marketing in the Age of Aquarius provided some astronomical profits in return.

cover Seventeen Magazine April 1970 featuring Peter Max designs

April 1970 issue of Seventeen, featuring out of this world fashion by Peter Max the high priest of consumerism and counter-culture

Where better to target teens than in Seventeen magazine a publication devoted to their very needs and desires. The inch thick wish book of teen fashion, style and beauty was the undisputed authority, sanctioning looks and desires for the sassy non-conformist 1970 teen.

Encouraging teens to “Be an Individualistic! Go where the experience awaits you !”the magazine was a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colors and catchphrases, filled with ads hawking the same products they had for decades only now catering to the readers individuality, rebelliousness and hedonism, while incorporating relevant trends like women’s lib, Vietnam and ecology.

Our own tour through the April 1970 issue of that teen bible features a first ever fashion layout by Peter Max described as “the pied piper of effervescent young ideas.”

What’s Your $ign

1970 Peter max ads Clocks Funbrella

L) Peter Max Electric Clocks from General Electric “The absolutely wild, wonderful way to tell time.” (R) Peter Max for Right Guard Funbrella “You’ll be swingin in the rain with this original Peter Max Funbrella designed exclusively for Right Guard. Wild colors, groovy designs only $3.95 and proof of purchase.’ 1970 ad Seventeen

No one combined peace, love and commerce better than Peter Max. The former Madison Avenue wiz kid was a wizard of marketing, . His ubiquitous designs of heavenly influences could be found everywhere from clocks to clothes, all espousing harmony love and Max-imum good vibrations.

No doubt his horoscope predicted major profits.

 Fashion to the Max

1970 Peter Max Fashion

Cosmic Tricks- Peter Max goes astronomical with his head in the clouds and heavenly angel wear etched on his mind. A 2 part knit with double-faced portrait ( it’s Peter- see the mustache?) in profile on skirt. Fashion from Seventeen Magazine 1970

Peter Max was a one man design explosion with his interplanetary, hearts and stars and whimsical flourishes, all marked with merry Max-isms. “His creativity burst into fashion ( for the first time)  in the pages of Seventeen,” the article gushes “and practically paints the whole issue in the warming colors of peace and love.”

A Galaxy of  Mod Max Fashion

1970 Peter Max Fashion Seventeen Minis

“Love is in the stars, blinking pinks on a knit harmony happiness and balance.” Peter Max fashion Seventeen Magazine 1970

 “Multiplex minis by Max! Zap! Here’s Peter Max splashy phantasma graphics on little knit cut-ups.”


1970 Peter Max-Seventeen-Inner Peace

(L) Hop to in a skippy scrambled legs petaled pantyhose pace in a myriad of colors

 “There are no gloomies in Peter Max land-just twirl the cheeriest umbrella this side of cloud 9 and see the smiles Inner Peace is achieved by stretching deep into the environment we feel Max-imum vibrations beneath the surface as Peter puts his stamp on weightless body stocking. The cling-a-ling all in one zings with colorworks.

1970 Peter max Fashion

“Colors play a game in mixed Max media. All you need is love for a spectrum of sweatshirts.” Peter Max Fashion and accessories Seventeen Magazine 1970

All you need is Love

 Color Me Groovy

1970 Lady Esquire Shoe Coloring ad

Lady Esquire Shoe Coloring offered a “Change the World Contest” Submit your grooviest design ideas and win a $3,000 Pierre Cardin wardrobe. Vintage ad 1970 Seventeen Magazine

Trying to attract a younger audience for their shoe polish ( now rebranded shoe coloring) Esquire was no longer just for your establishment Dad’s corporate wing tips or your Moms died to match satin pumps.

With Lady Esquire Instant Shoe Coloring – you could be creative and make your whole world a coloring book in groovy colors like Cop-Out Copper, Butter Up Yellow and Groovin Green.

“So you’re out to change the world,” the ad begins. “We can do it together. Turn the world Mad Magenta, color your shoes, go onto boots, belts, bags buttons.”

Do Your own Thing.

Rit Color vintage ad

Vintage Rit Fabric Dye ad 1950s

Rejecting tradition, these teens would rather die than end up like their uptight cookie cutter parents.

Old reliable Rit fabric dye found a whole new generation of consumers.

No longer just for Mom’s organza curtains, or that new shirtwaist dresses, with a bottle of familiar Rit fabric dye you could create a total tie-dyed world.

1970 Rit Tied Dye ad

1970 Rit Ad features simplicity patterns for some groovy threats as shown on model Cheryl Tiegs.

A fad was born.

For the ultimate do your own thing kind of chick there was Rit’s “Splash and Dash” a companion to tie dye. No matter what you do, the ad promised, “ it’s exciting, it’s unique …it’s you. A real original original.”

The ad featured some far-out fashions from Simplicity Patterns suggesting “You not only sew the dress…you print the fabric too! Splash dyeing with Rit is the fun fad of the year…..yet no 2 are alike.”

Unleashing your inner Jackson Pollack was never so easy.

“Take a small paint brush and dip it in Rit. Then let it drip on the fabric. You can flick your wrist sprinkle freely or move it in a patterned movement or paint with brush on long free form strokes or use a squeeze bottle to squirt the Rit.”

 A Charmed Life

1970 Monet Ad Hippy Girl

Vintage Monet Ad – 1970 Seventeen Magazine

Hoping to charm a new generation of consumers. Monet jewelry went out to prove that even a non materialistic hippy chick could still dig that 1950’s charm bracelet.

A frequent advertising device was to simply slap on a leather headband on a pretty model and instant hippy.

This Woodstock wannabe is incongruously still sporting a charm bracelet, an oh so feminine piece of jewelry, dangling with the decorative pendants and trinkets that chronicle the small moments in a life. Unless Monet intended to create trinkets marking a first acid trip, Grateful Dead concert or a miniature gold protest sign, its success seems doubtful.

Free To Be Me

Vintage Kotex ads 1960, 1970

From Carefree to Free To Be You and Me. (L) The New Look of Confidence- Kotex ad 1960 (R) The Fussless Generation by Kotex vintage ad 1970

On the cusp of women lib, girls wanted liberation too and Madison Ave was happy to oblige offering 2 New Freedoms – “better ways to be free to enjoy being a woman.”

Kotex sanitary napkins beckoned the liberated teen to catch up and become part of the hassle free generation. This was the new, newer look of confidence.
Getting your period was a hassle, man. But now with Kotexs New Freedom there was no hassle . Out went the old-fashioned sanitary belt.
Beltless, pinless and fussless, Kotex offered these revolutionary self adhesive napkins, No compromising and no bulging, no embarrassing…just flush it and forget it. (though the environment might not be so forgetful)

Free Love

1970 Massengill ad

The Freedom Spray from Massengil! “New Freedom. It’s a better way to be free to enjoy being a woman.” Vintage ad 1970 Seventeen

Freedom was all around these girls; raising their consciousness, they were free to love and free to be you and me. Young women were shucking their inhibitions along with their bras. It may have been the dawning of the age of Aquarius but it was also the dawning of the age of FDS.”Being a girl was never nicer…than now…in the age of FDS. ”

Feminine hygiene spray was no longer just for married ladies; it was the now experience to show the world you’re with it!

Let it All Hang Out

1970 scales Counselor ad

Counselor scales in 12 op art designs in bold vibrant, Now colors! Vintage ad Seventeen Magazine 1970

The way out weighs in! Exercise your option to lose weight even if being slender wasn’t really optional…fatso!

Keepin’ It Real

1970s hippy girl reading a book

This was the age of peace, love and polyester

Madison Avenue knew it was important to harmonize with the world and keep in tempo with whats real. Nothing said  back to the earth authenticity like a non biodegradable polyester/ peasant blouse made from petro chemicals. They may have been wearing polyester but they were down to earth in their hearts.

The Now Generation Makes clothes for the Now Generation


1970 vintage fashion ad Polyester Quintess

Groove through the looking glasses for 2 eye-catching knits of EZ care Quintess polyester. In get-him-and-keep—him-colors. Vintage ad 1970

Environment Clothes for the Environment Hassle Free Polyester

1970 fashion

Vintage ad 1970 Seventeen Magazine

The environment was on everyone’s mind.

In April of 1970 millions took to the streets, auditorium to demonstrate for a healthy sustainable environment in. What better way to celebrate the first Earth day than protesting at a rally in crinkly polyurethane coat

Organically Beautiful

1970 beauty face powder

“ Cornsilk is the makeup that contains formerly living organic materials from the earth. We think Corn Silk goes so well with other organic things. Like Women.”

Even back to nature chicks needed to powder their meaningful teenage noses. Corn silk brand makeup came to their rescue. When corn wasn’t being used for high fructose corn syrup it was pressed into service as face powder.

Tellin It Like It Is

1970 stationary SWScan04699

A really cool medium to communicate major truths beautiful thoughts and the stuff of dreams.

Write On!

Hallmark got hip with their stationary making it easier to get down and tell it like it is!  “The great new writing paper that’s half the message. Extrasensory colors in madly relevant designs.

Flower Power

1970  soldierwith flower in gun

“Send a sample to the different drummer with a gift card signed: From the girl who plays along.” Vintage ad Bravura Cologne 1970 Seventeen

With war protests spreading across campuses, Bravura Cologne made this offer “If your guy has a mind of his own then he’s a man who hears a different drummer and deserves a mini bottle of Bravura, the different cologne. ”

This ad appeared one month before the tragic protests at Kent State  when Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd killing 4 and wounding 9  students. Sadly, there was not a “different drummer” among the soldiers that day.

Copyright (©) 2015 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved




  1. I remember my older brother and sister dressing like this. My teenage years hit a little later and was rooted in the Punk era. Not much of better look, but Madison avenue decided to ignore it for almost 20 years. 🙂


  2. Susan

    What a find! Thanks for sharing this vintage magazine. (P.S. Shoe coloring was not the same as shoe polish — it was an opaque paint that would actually change the color of the shoe, until it wore off.) Great pictures of a time I remember — and wasn’t Peter Max a clever guy, mass-merchandising hippie culture and still seeming cool enough for the Beatles! I remember seeing his prints (or knock offs) on polyester knit dresses sold on Haight Street. I think I owned one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great piece. I am often amazed at how much material you have.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Seeing all these wonderful memories in such vivid color and designs of a fantastic period in time is just so cool. You are the wealth of archival eye candy! I love any Peter Max because of his great style, use of color and drawing of shapes. I think it’s so cool that the Peter Max Life mag came to your very own house in 1969 and you still have it.


    • So glad you enjoyed it. I agree with you, the colors and kaleidoscope of designs are so evocative and distinctive to that time period, unique to itself. Being a collector from the time of childhood, I am surrounded by the ephemera and objects of the past.


  5. Pingback: I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke | Envisioning The American Dream

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