Classic Charles Atlas comic ads

This is a famous Charles Atlas ad format that appeared in comic books for decades.

That’s part of what makes this ad so good – it blends into the rest of the magazine with its own little cartoon strip.

The story that it tells is at least a bit relatable for its target audience:

  1. Skinny guy gets bullied at the beach in front of a girl.
  2. Skinny guy feels ashamed and orders Charles Atlas’ book.
  3. “Later”, the skinny guy is all big and buff.
  4. The ex-skinny guy returns to the beach and gets his revenge on the bully.

Even if you’ve never experienced this specific scenario, it’s an easy-to-follow story. “Mac” gets bullied, gets big, then kicks butt.

The ad also follows a familiar basic format:

  • Image.
  • Headline (Let Me PROVE I can make YOU A NEW MAN)
  • Text. (Including bold subheaders and lots of freebie extras)
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1967 version of “eCommerce”

This Johnson Smith Novelty Items magazine ad was how the 1960’s version of “eCommerce” companies worked. They would make compact ads like this with their catalog of popular (or curiosity-inducing)