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When Ads Were Really Mad: The Best Mad Magazine Spoof Ads

Looking back at print advertising of the mid 20th century is a window into a bizarre world of smiling smokers and classy boozebags, amid a choir of hilariously hyperbolic product claims. It’s easy to look back and laugh, but even back then one magazine was sticking a satirical finger in the eyes of marketers, the same way the Onion, John Oliver, and others do today.

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Flickr user John Schrantz has spent the last several years sifting through his impressive and expansive collection of vintage Mad magazines and scanning its funniest fake ads of that golden era. It was a time when Mad magazine didn’t accept real ads, so the organ’s full satirical (and sometimes puerile) might was aimed at marketers.


“They were so amazing that I wanted other people to see them,” says Schrantz, but he has a tough time picking a favorite. “They’re all so great. The photographed ads usually included Mad staff members, including Bill Gaines. And the illustrated ads featured some of the finest artists from the ’50s and ’60s, including Kelly Freas and Jack Davis. They’re all special to me.”

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