Vintage Ad Archive: Sipping With The Stars!


In the world of alcohol, as in all things, change is a fact of life.  Styles come and go, trends wax and wane, what's hot one moment can seem hopelessly passé the next.  What people like to drink and the way they like to drink it varies from season to season and year to year – and in fact, one of the things I like most in assembling these archival articles is looking at the ever-shifting nature of American society, and gaining perspective on how drinking tastes shifted over the course of the 20th century.

An all-star line-up promotes Carling's Red Cap Ale, 1951
An all-star line-up promotes Carling's Red Cap Ale, 1951

Still, so far as advertising goes, there's one approach that never goes out of style: the celebrity endorsement.And over the years, distilleries and breweries have enlisted a wide variety of pitchmen-and-women to hype their wares, from athletes to authors, designers to directors, mimes and musicians, stars of stage, screen, and symphony hall.

Comedians have always a popular choice for companies who want to hype their wares – humor can be a vital element in sales pitches, and combining chuckles and cocktails is a surefire way to get an audience's attention.

Of course, there were those funnymen who went above and beyond the call of duty – Bob Hope loaned his likeness to competing beer brands...

And never one to miss out on an opportunity, Groucho Marx helped hype a number of companies over the '50s and 60s.

Many "serious" actors also tried their hand at the booze-shilling game – some attempting to imbue the proceedings with an air of refinement, some opting for a more down-home approach.

Athletes are a scarcer subject in alcohol ads, but there still a fair number who've loaned their likenesses to adult beverage brands.

And all types of other public personalities have appeared in this manner: bullfighters, conductors, reporters, opera singers, professional bridge players, fashion designers, strippers, dancers... Even the cast of Camelot!

And the craziest thing is that this selection barely scratches the surface of this topic.  There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of other star-driven advertisements waiting in my archives, but they'll have to wait for another day.  Hopefully you've had fun on this latest trek back through time with me, and enjoyed this glimpse of how liquor companies have made use of celebrity clout over the years...  It seems that no matter how much things change, getting a big name to back your booze is something that will never fall out of fashion.