The best adverts of the 1930s: what we can learn from vintage advertising

Selection of 1930s ads
(Image credit: Guinness, Bovril, Ford, Coca-Cola)

The 1930s wasn't the happiest time in history; it was the decade in which the fun of the Roaring Twenties morphed into the misery of the Great Depression and the rise of the Nazis. But every action produces a counter-reaction, and this was also a decade that saw a surge of innovation and resilience. And that made the 1930s a golden age of advertising; a period when creativity bloomed in the face of adversity, and brands dared to be different

For this article, we asked the experts to select their favourite 1930s ads. And this was not just an exercise in nostalgia, because these designs have a lot to teach modern designers. Like the best 1930s logos, these ads are mini works of art, infused with the spirit of the times. They capture the anxieties and aspirations of a nation grappling with economic hardship and yearning for a brighter future. 

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.