05 February 2010

Clean Machine

The name of this 1968 dishwasher perplexes me. 'Fliptop', of course, is self-explanatory; I'm on board with that descriptor. But what about 'Dishmobile'? There's no indication this is a portable appliance.

Nonetheless, I'm happy to see the model isn't put off by this fussy contradiction. She's obviously tickled pink by the 'Jack-in-the-box racks' that pop up when the lid is opened. For my part, I love how the color of the type coordinates with the stripes of her minidress. Ah, the mysteries of marketing.


  1. There are a lot of things at work in this ad. Color is certainly one of them. The Barris-made "Batmobile" was on everyone's mind — the Batman series began in 1966 — prompting an endless array of "mobile" jokes. My friends might say, "Here comes the Evanmobile" when I entered the room. They meant that in the nicest possible way, of course. Today they say, "Here comes the Ev-Cat" because I'm so totally cool. (Just kidding.) So, Dishmobile, I'm guessing, was nothing more than a well-understood joke. The Ralston Purina Co. bought Foodmaker in 1968, owner of Jack in the Box. It was in all the newspapers and magazines. Their goal was to catch up with MacDonalds. They launched an overnight campaign to populate the world with bouncy, smily-faced drive-thrus. So, Jack in the Box was also flooding the culture. But the key item in this ad, in my opinion, is the boots. Nancy Sinatra's song "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" also came out in 1966 and two years later it was still getting airtime. The image of the white-gloved housewife was heaving its last sigh. The refrain says it all. "These boots are made for walkin', and that's just what they'll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you." It was a subconscious thing, perhaps, but women had begun their take-over bid. The Marlboro Man was the reigning symbol of masculinity. When I look back on those glorious years I can't count the number of long-legged bra-burning girls who smoked flip-top reds. Don't flip your lid, but the more masculine the cigarette, the more women wanted them. The boots at the boom of the add translate, Walk on in!  They say, "You're the one who makes the decisions, not the guy you sleep with." Ah, yes. Those were ALSO the days.

  2. If you put your mind to it, you'll find a lot more. This ad is filled with sexual innuendo that was (and remains) very now! I'll let you guess what the slant's all about and how something called a Frigidaire could nonetheless flip your top. "Jack-in-the-box" and "inside story", along with "faster and easier" aren't entirely about dishwashing. And those small items "that would be difficult to wash" — honestly, is there no privacy?

  3. A final note. Vance Packard, who introduced Americans to subliminal motivators in 1957 with The Hidden Persuaders, published The Sexual Wilderness: The Contemporary Upheaval in Male-Female Relations in 1968, adding one more event to this fateful year. I mention this to excuse my preceding comment. Packard's book was not well received by critics and professionals who called it, among other things, "a collection of cliches on matters sexual." (William Simon, American Sociological Association.) But, once again, it was widely read. To see what's going on in this dishwasher ad, one must combine the contents of both works, something Packard did not quite do. Today, mass market advertising still tingles us where we buy. The clich├ęs have changed, but not the content.


  4. It is such a pleasure to read your comments, Evan Jones. And perhaps more to the point, I appreciate the time taken to compose them. In an era [and in a medium] where attention spans are measured in fractions of a second, thoughtful, informed commentary is to be treasured.

  5. Thank you. I just read a study that was able to differentiate "click behavior" among web viewers based on "milliseconds of load delay". I in turn appreciate reading a blog that is so thoughtfully put together.


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