Would you buy cigarettes, beer or gasoline from a parrot?

Would you buy cigarettes, beer or gasoline from a parrot?

As a mid 20th century child a.k.a. baby boomer I grew up in what would be called “naïve time”. Let me illustrate.
 
 
 
We had our priorities as a nation in the 1950s. We didn’t allow ourselves to be exposed to things that might hurt us. TV shows like Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet supported the notions of the idyllic stay-at-home moms. One thing we’re certainly clueless about was birds and parrots as pets. Actually it wasn’t really until the turn of the 21st century that we began to accept and understand the brilliance and complexity of companion birds.
 
Doral cigarette ad with parrot and pirate
A ship’s captain has to trust the opinion of the ship’s parrot
especially when talking about cigarettes – right?
 
Every once in a while I’m asked what it is I do for a living. If it’s a friend, stranger or acquaintance my answer might be a little flippant “I’m the bird toy guy”.
 
Vintage cigarette ad Japanese woman with two parakeets and canary
The only thing I could think of looking at this is
“what could she possibly be looking at – hello?”
 
If I’m at a nerdy networking event my stock answer is “I’m a digital marketer”. That means something like I get asked a bird question and then research cool stuff about birds and push the information to places all over the internet.
 
 
 
try a parrot cigar vintage poster
You would think someone said
let’s name a cigar line after a parrot – once.
 
With the bird (ownership) category paling in comparison to the dog and cat category (in retail sales) birds are not really mainstream yet you’d be surprised how many products birds & parrots have shown up “squawking” their merits over the last 2 centuries.
 
search of parrots with cigar ads
yet marketing many marketing folks and 
cartoon artists have felt parrots and cigars are a great match
 
What this post really highlights is how dumb we’ve been about the use of birds in marketing. Can you imagine the outrage from the bird community if some these ads showed up in today’s media?
 
Vintage Chesterfield cigarette poster with parrot taking a cigarette out of the pack
parrots apparently were valued for their
opinion of cigarette mildness at one time
 
I actually get paid to find a lot of both smart and silly stuff about birds. In doing so I’ve accumulated collection of advertising images with of course parrots. Because you’re a bird person, would you be more influenced by a large cockatoo than a sports personality in guiding your purchasing decisions?
 
Vintage old gold cigarette ad with 2 Budgies
“We perch our case on just one fact” really????
They needed a 911 call to Don Draper (Madmen TV show)
 
Much like sports personalities and advertising there’s not a whole lot of relationship between spokesperson and the product other than compensation. We do know that certain birds out there work for money but the birds in these ads – well I guess they should have unionized early on.
 
 
vintage illustration of parrot on perch light sexy womans cigarette
When clicker and stick training really got results
google “peter driben parrot art” for more of these tasty pics
 
1929 Vintage Lincoln car ad with parrot over car
Parrots were used to sell cars in the last century – but why?
 
The connection between cars and parrots totally eludes me. Parrots come with their own mode of transportation namely “wings”. Perhaps that’s the “lift” car companies were seeking.
 
ad for Infinity q45 interio with sulfur crested cockatoo on steering wheel
And parrots are still being used to sell cars in this century – the question really is
Is a Sulfur crested cockatoo the best way to test Infiniti’s Voice Recognition System? Or do you have to squawk commands at the car for it to work?
image of all sign for poly gasoline from the Wilshire oil company in Los Angeles California
not only did parrots sell cars but they sold the stuff you put in cars
 
portable bar with Polly's brand oil logo
you gotta admit this pretty cool whatever it is/does
vintage image of Blue Parrot cranberries tin
Food must be trustworthy if it’s named after a parrot
 
Clearly people in marketing back in the day felt that name and a product after parrot gave it additional credibility.
 
vintage tin of parrot quality lard
i rest my case
 
vintage post for Karo pancake syrup with a parakeet
our cockatiel always asks us about ingredients 
before she eats something – not
 
 
this takes “Polly want a cracker” to the next level
 
The creativity of marketing people should never be underestimated especially when it comes to parrots.
 
 
they even made a second commercial
 
I get the whole “Polly wants a cracker thing” but this next commercial for Doritos chips had to of been influenced by a mind altering substance.
 
 
what do you do with a trained parrot? 
Put him in a Doritos commercial
 
Vintage poster for Sheraton hotels in latin america
ok – so this makes sense
 
ad for carribean cruise naive man holding parrot
this has always been one of my faves
 
 
vintage tin of Parrot brand sewing needles
but sewing needles? makes as much sense as cars
 
ad for cellophane with parrot
who knew parrots were your go to source for cellophane info?
then again this was from a time zoos kept parrots close by leg chains. 
Vintage ad for Le gramaphone with several parrots
I get the concept – birds and sound – but not how the cockatoo 
got in the picture (think different continents) it’s a mystery
 
bird using beak to play record on turntable
and sometimes the bird IS the phonograph
 
 
vintage poster for making cookies with baby ruth candy bars
before chocolate made it to the “no good for birds” list
 
Polly wants a cookie made with a Baby Ruth. Here is the classic recipe – 2 sticks butter, softened 1 1/2 cups sugar 2 eggs 1 tsp. soda 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. vanilla 3 scant cups flour 5 Baby Ruth candy bars, cut up. Cream together softened butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add soda, salt, vanilla and flour. Fold in chocolate chips and pecan pieces. Drop teaspoon size dough on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 6 dozen cookies. You’re gonna need a lot of milk
 
vintage poster for Ghirardelli's chocolate with parrot
a diabetic’s and parrot’s food dream/nightmare
 
Amor Bern chocolate poster with parrot
what parrot doesn’t like chocolate?
 
The relationship between parrots and alcohol runs deep. We just don’t know why or when it began. We have a small collection of Corby’s “drinking paraphernalia” everything from cocktail pics to bottle pourers to lighting fixtures .
 
Vintage Corbys whiskey poster Parrot
Corby’s used parrots to sell it’s whiskey until they went out of business
 
corbys whiskey plastic parrot light up sign
part of the Windy City Parrot collection
 
vintage poster for Fleishmann's gin with old sailor and Cockatoo parrot
who drinks gin anymore? 
once they stopped using parrots to market it – it got boring
 
vintage poster 3 generations of family and parrot - all drinking beer
back in the day beer was good for the whole fam damily including pets (is that beer in the goldfish bowl?)
note: parrot beer glass perch – currently out of stock
note 2: time to cut off dad – but no one cares – because the beer taste so damn good
 
 
you know this really happens!
 
Poll parrot neon sign
what animal than a bird with zygodactyl 
feet is better suited to sell human shoes than a parrot?
 
 
proof!
 
Poll Parrot & Howdy Doody comic book
If you remember this – you’re old
 
Vintage 1963 harley motorcycle ad with 3 macaw parrots
Harley got it’s marketing (and motorcycles) right – but it took 2 more decades
 
Hope you enjoyed our trip down memory lane and had some fun.
 
written by mitch rezman
approved by cathrine tobsing

Mitch Rezman

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they visited monthly birdie brunches in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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