30 Years of 'Cosmo' Ads: Scents, Spirits, Cigarettes & SexS

Yesterday, we kicked off our first Ladymag Lookback with a look at the differences in cover models and cover lines from three decades of Cosmopolitan: October '77, '87, '97, and '07. Today we're doing a mini-analysis of the advertising contained within each issue. Here's the narrative rundown: In addition to lots of paid-for pictures of lipstick, nail polish and perfume, the older issues of Cosmo are notable for reflecting what looked to be rampant (yet unsurprising) alcohol and tobacco abuse among its readers. Marlboro cigarettes were a favorite - ads for the brand appear in every issue we looked at... except for the current 2007 issue, which features one tobacco advertisement — for the controversial R.J. Reynolds brand Camel No. 9 ("Now Available In Stiletto"). Alcohol — particularly tequila — is everywhere as well, although, much like tobacco, it is in much higher evidence in the older issues. (Special treat: The 1987 issue features a full-page printed PSA warning against the dangers of cocaine use.)

As for sex, strangely, of the four issues analyzed, there is an equal total number of ads for fertility devices/conception products and contraceptive devices. (This, in a magazine founded and long-edited by the writer of Sex And The Single Girl?).

And while we're on the subject of vaginas? Apparently women didn't get yeast infections back in the fall of 1977. The first ad for a yeast infection treatment crops up in the October 1997 issue; in the issues for the two previous decades, the only ads related to a woman's reproductive organs are those for sanitary napkins, tampons and things like "herbal-scented" douches and "feminine deodorant suppositories"... also available in "unscented" or an "herbal". Below, some numbers:


30 Years of 'Cosmo' Ads: Scents, Spirits, Cigarettes & Sex

1977 - 335 pages
Number of perfume ads: 18

Number of ads for liquor or mixers: 21

Number of ads for cigarettes: 13

Number of ads for contraceptives: 2
Number of ads for fertility/conception aids: 0






30 Years of 'Cosmo' Ads: Scents, Spirits, Cigarettes & Sex

1987 — 331 pages
Number of perfume ads: 15

Number of ads for liquor or mixers: 8

Number of ads for cigarettes: 7

Number of ads for contraceptives: 2
Number of ads for fertility/conception aids: 6






30 Years of 'Cosmo' Ads: Scents, Spirits, Cigarettes & Sex

1997 - 297 pages
Number of perfume ads: 15

Number of ads for liquor or mixers: 1

Number of ads for cigarettes: 4

Number of ads for contraceptive products: 1
Number of ads for fertility/conception aids: 0






30 Years of 'Cosmo' Ads: Scents, Spirits, Cigarettes & Sex

2007 - 269 pages
Number of perfume ads: 14

Number of ads for liquor or mixers: 3

Number of ads for cigarettes: 1

Number of ads for contraceptive products: 2
Number of ads for fertility/conception aids: 1




Earlier: 30 Years of 'Cosmopolitan': It's All About The Sex And Hair
Helen Gurley Brown Still Alive & Kicking; Still Hates Her Muffin-Top