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July 27, 2022

1953 Alcoa Aluminum Ad: “You Mean a Woman Can Open It?”

You mean a woman can open it? You mean a woman can actually do something that would normally require strength with her delicate hands and fragile body? You mean she does not need her husband to do it for her? Luckily, we have become very good at mocking these sorts of retro advertisements.

In 1953 Alcoa Aluminum produced an advertisement promoting their HyTop twist-off bottle cap. The ad features a woman wearing red lipstick and looking at the reader while holding a Del Monte ketchup bottle with the appearance of being about to open it. The tagline directly below it is, “You mean a woman can open it?” with the word woman underlined. The first sentence of the article it accompanied stated, “Easily—without a knife blade, a bottle opener, or even a husband!”

The advertisement has been described as an example of targeted advertising towards women, is viewed as a symbol of social stereotypes during the 1950s, and is frequently cited as emblematic of the Mad Men era. Scholarly interpretation states that it implies that a woman is dependent upon her husband to do things for her. In one such commentary, the New York Daily News stated that the woman in the advertisement is “clearly stunned and possibly delighted” at being able to open the bottle easily.


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