Saigon of the past: Downright bizarre vintage adverts

By Son Hoa   July 25, 2016 | 04:00 am PT
Saigon of the past: Downright bizarre vintage adverts
From coffin advertisements on trams to an embarrasing husband and wife conversation.

The advertising industry is believed to have descended onto the streets of Saigon during the French colonial era. Billboards, yard sides and flyers were seen on every corner of the city post-1954.


According to historians, Saigoneers adopted their advertising from the French, whose ads delivered simple messages that stuck in viewers' heads. 


The coffin makers at Tobia seemed to be truly in love with their products. Their campaign was launched in a local newspaper, where their ads read:

“East or West, home is best. However, the beauty and durability of Tobia coffins reaches as far as the Philippines, where people have been wowed by our product. This achievement has overthrown the century-long xenophilia in our country. You need a coffin when you’re dead as much as a house when you’re alive.”


An advisement for "Tiger" coke, a beverage that used rocket-shaped bottles to gain popularity. Drinking a "Tiger" was said to make you feel more fun, beautiful and refreshed. 


Some adverts looked confusing, if not irrelevant at first sight. What does toothpaste have to do with rice paddies? Well, according to Hynos Toothpaste, rice makes the perfect analogy. 

“Rice is planted to harvest grain. And some people must plant their teeth to bite and chew food. Some people don’t take good care of their teeth, so they not only got cavities but have also lost plenty of teeth. With Hynos toothpaste, you will have strong and healthy teeth.”


Others went straight to the point: "Polite people only choose Bata shoes to wear. Bata shoes – beautiful and durable. Shops available across Indochina."


A sandwich board promoting movies at a local theater is placed on a wagon drawn across the city.


No, this is not a horror movie poster. It's an advertisement for a tailor who describes himself as so exceptionally talented he can satisfy even the most difficult customers.


Lambretta, a then-popular scooter, with the message: “Life is more beautiful with a Lambretta.”


A deodorant advertisement features a shocking conversation:
Husband: “Your armpits smell like a shrew’s nest. The more perfume you wear, the more unbearable it becomes.”

Wife: “Then hurry and go to Kim Hung pharmacy. Buy me one of their antiperspirant packs and the smell will vanish right away.”


Women’s Weekly Magazine:

"My husband had an affair because I didn’t read this Women’s Weekly Magazine. I knew nothing of how to apply make up, how to cook, how to raise our children, how to dress well and how to socialize.
But thanks to Women’s Weekly Magazine and their columns on beauty, household arts, sports and children,… that I have read, my husband has stopped looking for another woman because I am now the perfect wife.”


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