Advertisements in Chinese language newspapers in Singapore in the 1930s are very interesting. Earlier in the century, the advertisements were very male-focused, and dealt with things that appealed to working men – like machinery and alcohol.

In the 1930s, however, advertisements that were directed at women and domestic life started to appear, and for a while you had a mixture of advertisements that were directed at both men and women, although the ones directed at women were undoubtedly all created by men, so they are still “male-centric” in that they project images of what men at the time thought women should look and act like.


So, for instance, there were a lot of milk advertisements in the 1930s, such as this one for Lactogen, which depicted women as good mothers who take care of their children.


Then at the same time you had advertisements like this one for Hennessy cognac which starts out by saying (roughly translated), “Look at the beauty in this picture! Doesn’t she suit your taste? So down some Hennessy cognac and you will be liberated from your worries and cares.”

Hmmm. . . I guess the message here is that it is ok to go out, get drunk on Hennessy cognac, and. . .

But what about the wife who is at home feeding Lactogen to your new baby?

good friend

No worries! Because there is “Good Friend,” a kind of “booster” for both men and women. In fact, it boosts so well that (again, roughly translated) “Even if you have three wives and four mistresses you can still always have one on each side and have more fun than you could ever imagine.”