Mid 1980s Print Advertisements

I got hold of three Female magazine cookbooks published in Singapore between 1985 and 1988, and what turned out to be more intriguing than the recipes are the print ads of food products, which we don’t see so often these days. Back in the 80s long copy ads were still popular and they dominated these cookbooks. These ads may be grouped into a few categories to help explain why more words used to be better.

To explain new products or special features.

Kenwood advertisement

Here, the oven’s “unique double quartz elements” need explanation.

harlen coconut cream

It seems that packet coconut cream was still a novelty in the mid-1980s, which is why Harlen compares itself not with similar products but with freshly squeezed coconut milk.

sunbeam advertisement

This and the following ad highlight the fact that these oils are polyunsaturated fat, at a time when people were waging war against saturated fats, believing that they cause heart disease (we discover later that this argument is based on junk science).

golden drop advertisement

Toย highlight a new packaging.


To showcase a wider range of products or functions.

It's likely that Singaporeans first came to know Kraft for their cheese.

It’s likely that Singaporeans first came to know Kraft for their cheese.

20 years down the road, ziplock has a range too wide to list in a page like this, although I think most of us still do not know why some cost more much more per unit than the others.

The advertisers sometimes get creative…

Is it me or does this ad for the now defunct National brand read like a haiku? Pay attention to how the fine print about discounts respond to the poem.

This ad for National, now defunct, read like a haiku. Pay attention to how the fine prints about discounts respond to the poem.

or corny.

In the previous year, the copy in Kikkoman's ad was lengthy about its history, production methods, market reach, and the award it received. This ad ditched the grandmother story to focus on qualities.

In the previous year, Kikkoman’s ad went on lengthily about its history, production methods, and market reach. This one here ditched the narrative to state the qualities outright from the perspective of the product itself.

Recipes used to be an attractive gift since people didn’t have theย internet and the alternative was to shell out money for cookbooks.

dutch lady advertisement carnation advertisement


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