As voted upon by YOU, THE READERS, this week we take a second look at the May, 1978 issue of Seventeen, specifically the tiny, black & white advertisements for teenage dreams and schemes.
As a Seventeen reader in the early 1990s, I have to admit that I barely glanced at these ads, except for noting that the stock photos and clip art seemed vaguely outdated. There is a reason for that: Seventeen basically had a roster of these advertisers (boarding schools, weight-loss camps, junior colleges, career opportunities) and some of them used the exact same ad for DECADES.
For the May issue, they put the Fat Camps up front:
Most of these camps (eventually joined by the ubiquitous Camp La Jolla) will advertise for the next three decades.
Here is Camp Camelot’s ad from the June 1988 issue, which updated the graphics to a photo (but still pushes the tennis):
Does anything sound more dire than spending the summer at Fat Camp in “Amish Country”?
The same photo appears in a slightly different format in April of 1991:
The EXACT same advertisement for Camp Murrietta appears in the 1970s, 80s and 90s issues. Ditto for Kingsmont Camp, who was never going to give up that clip art. Weight Watchers is obviously the high roller, frequently refreshing their logo and graphics.
The next pages feature ads for what I would categorize as “education, career opporunities and get-rich-quick schemes”:
First up are the boarding school and Junior Colleges. Mount Ida college operated until 2018, when it became part of UMass’s Amherst campus.
The only ad still using the archiac “finishing school” in its description is Patricia Stevens International, founded in 1947. Its St. Louis affiliate still exists as a “private, for-profit college” under the name Stevens Institute of Business and Arts (SIBA).
Also in the private, for-profit category is Miss Wade’s Fashion Mechandising College of Dallas. The 1978 ad is easy to overlook on the crowded page, but 10 years later they had a sleek new attitude and (clip art) logo for their advertising:
Virtually the same ad was still running in 1994, although with an even sassier tagline:
Status: still going strong as Wade College in the 21st century!
And then of course we have the Three Bs: Brooks, Bauder and Barbizon.
Brooks College used that exact same Peter Max-inspired ad in 1978 that they did throughout the 80s and early-90s. Here is is in the June 1988 issue:
But by 1994 they were buying less ad space, and using clip art that was somehow even MORE out-of-date looking:
Bauder College had multiple locations with multiple advertisements in every issue. Here the Ft. Lauderdale and Atlanta locations share a page, using very different designs for their advertising:
In 1994, the Atlanta location was buying less space and running this plain-Jane ad:
Again, there is clearly one high roller in this bunch, and that is The Barbizon School, founded in 1939 with a tony Fifth Avenue address. As you can see, in 1978 they were already using their famous “Be a model… or just look like one!” tagline.
Here is the 1988 version:
(Note that the office had moved to less-tony Third Avenue by this point)
And in 1994:
Barbizon, like many an elderly Manhattanite, was now receiving their mail in Boca Raton.
Status: franchised throughout the world, the New York City location now calls the Garment District home.
Status: you last had a chance to Draw Me in 2016, and the school closed for good in 2018, after 104 years.
So, Constant Readers, now I want to hear from you! Did you ever take a course through Barbizon? Dream of attending a boarding school? Ponder a career in fashion merchandising? Draw one of the many Draw Mes? (It is the Pirate I remember being in heavy circulation during my high school years) And if you somehow attended Fat Camp in Amish Country, you should definitely be writing a YA novel about that!
Later this week we will conclude Seventeen’s back-of-the-book insanity with some truly wild personalized mail-order MERCH from 1978.