Yesterday someone posted two extraordinary photos of billboard ads for contraception from 1957. This would have just 8 years after the founding of the PRC. From these we get a reminder that the U.S. and China are coming from very different traditions of public display and interaction design. An art or medical historian could probably tell us what influences this kind of advertising reveals.
The images are from the China 1957 Photo Album by pioneering photographer, film-maker, reporter, and writer Robert Carl Cohen. Cohen was sent by NBC to accompany a group of young Americans who defied the U.S. State Department by extending a trip to the Moscow Festival of Youth and Students, and visiting China. It was a highly political move from both sides. From an August 14, 1957 New York Times article:
All the Americans making the trip showed their passports and turned in
their passport numbers to get visas issued by the Chinese Embassy here.
These visas, however, were issued on separate pieces of paper so there
would be no official record that any of the youths had been in China.
The State Department contends that these making the trip are none the less
violating passport regulations against travel to and in China. Christian
A. Herter, Under Secretary of State, in a special message to each of the
travelers yesterday said the United States and China were in a “quasi-state
of war,” and further maintained that the youths would be “willing tools”
of Communist propagandists if they made the trip.
Unfortunately I can only access the first page of comments
(perhaps I need a QQ ID? Will have to see if it’s possible on a Mac) so there’s not much to translate beyond:
These are too…you know.
Yes, ads did used to be like this.
People then were more liberated than we are today!