Terrifying 1950s Synthetic Chemicals Advertising

The mid-century print advertisements of Union Carbide, now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, portrays the metaphorical giant disembodied hand of the chemical industry altering every aspect of the natural landscape, with the promise that their polymers will have “A Hand in Things to Come.” X-ray Delta One has the full collection:

5 Comments on "Terrifying 1950s Synthetic Chemicals Advertising"

  1. Business as God.

  2. Calypso_1 | Sep 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm |

    Brought to you from the minds of one of America’s most Gothamesque edifices.  
    Better known today as a Hard Rockin Hotel.

  3. Roger Mexico | Sep 3, 2012 at 5:00 am |

    I’ve actually seen one better than anything in this collection.

    I once lived in a house where a former resident had left a massive pile of old National Geographics from roughly the 40’s-60’s era, and the roommates and I endeavored to dig into the pile once.

    We quickly noticed that the vast majority of ad space had been sold to travel companies, airlines, etc. and had a running theme of pictures of white people receiving menial services of various kinds from members of the indigenous population in each of many “exotic” destinations around the world.

    The jackpot, however, was one of these Union Carbide ads. It showed a young Indian farmer loading wheat into a wooden handcart in the foreground, on the opposite side of a river from a large, very “modern” looking industrial facility, and of course the Giant Hand of Union Carbide–in this case pouring out the contents of a gigantic test tube, apparently into the river.

    This was unintentionally ominous enough imagery by itself, until we realized what the ad was promoting:

    They had taken out a full-page ad in National Geographic to tout the contributions to scientific progress, as well as the economic benefits to the local population, of the plant that Union Carbide had recently opened in Bhopal.

    I really wish I’d saved it. That kind of irony is priceless.

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