Last week I pointed to a hideous ad for Schenley’s whiskey that ran in Life mag­a­zine in 1947. It was notable for its attempts to use a cutesy car­toon char­ac­ter to sell alcohol.

Well, goo-goo-g’joob.


Yup. It’s a wal­rus. It’s tout­ing booze. And it, like the Schenley cock, appeared in Life mag­a­zine, just a year after the perky marching-​​band rooster (1948). But where the Schenley ad induced hor­ror, this one is almost acceptable.

For starters we don’t have a gen­uinely irra­tional jux­ta­po­si­tion here with the alco­hol. While it’s deeply wrong on so many lev­els to asso­ciate whiskey with a sun­rise, there’s noth­ing inher­ently dis­turb­ing about sug­gest­ing that wine goes with fish.

And while the bandleader/​ringmaster rooster was sim­ply a ghastly trav­esty,* a portly wal­rus that might just resem­ble cer­tain stereo­typ­i­cal car­i­ca­tures of the well-​​to-​​do — or at least of gour­mands — actu­ally sort of fits. And this wal­rus lacks the bug-​​eyed mania of the rooster, whose glassy stare and gap­ing beak seemed to be har­bin­gers of the worst kinds of dark mayhem:

The sug­ges­tion that Petri wines are only tol­er­a­ble if served very chilled, how­ever, sug­gests some­thing about their actual qual­ity. That, plus the fact that the brand no longer seems to exist.

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* What is most unfair about it all was the amount of work that went into that rooster graphic. It was care­fully and lov­ingly drawn and col­ored, but the result was a mad­ness beyond the bounds of imag­i­na­tion. I feel for the illus­tra­tors, I really do. I get the feel­ing they had to shrug, bite back their vit­ri­olic com­ments, and say, well, it’s what the client wants; it’s what the client gets.

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