1953 Alcoa Aluminum advertisement

The image used in the advertisement

In 1953 Alcoa Aluminum[1] produced an advertisement promoting their HyTop twist-off bottle cap. The advertisement, often erroneously attributed to Del Monte Foods,[2] featured a picture of a woman with the tagline "you mean a woman can open it?"[1] The advertisement has been subject to criticism in later reviews and is viewed as a symbol of casual sexism that was prevalent in the United States during the 1950s.[3]


The advertisement features a woman wearing red lipstick and looking at the reader while holding a Del Monte ketchup bottle with the appearance of being about to open it. The tagline directly below it is, "You mean a woman can open it?" with the word woman underlined. The first sentence of the article it accompanied stated, "Easily—without a knife blade, a bottle opener, or even a husband!"[4]

Critical reviewEdit

The advertisement has been described as an example of targeted advertising towards women,[5] is viewed as a symbol of social stereotypes during the 1950s,[6] and is frequently cited as emblematic of the Mad Men era.[3][7][8] Scholarly interpretation states that it implies that a woman is dependent upon her husband to do things for her.[4] In one such commentary, the New York Daily News stated that the woman in the advertisement is "clearly stunned and possibly delighted" at being able to open the bottle easily.[2] In addition, the advertisement has been used as a symbol of retro advertising, with a book bearing the same title as the tagline being published in 2000 by Adams Media detailing retro advertisements.[9] The Independent claimed that it enforced the stereotype of a woman as an unintelligent housewife.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Alcoa Aluminium - Beyond Belief: Shocking vintage adverts from the 'Golden Age'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  2. ^ a b "Del Monte Ketchup: 'You mean a woman can open it?' 'Mad Men' premiere: Sexist ads from the era of Don Draper". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  3. ^ a b Advertising (2014-05-08). "26 Sexist Ads Of The Mad Men Era". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  4. ^ a b "Why We Can't Afford Not To Be Politically Correct". The Odyssey. 2016-10-17. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  5. ^ "Aprons in Advertising". Slideshare. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  6. ^ Muir, Elizabeth (2015). Canadian Women in the Sky: 100 Years of Flight. Dundurn. p. 138. ISBN 1459731883.
  7. ^ a b Rushton, Susie (2010-11-30). "Turn the heating off – and feel virtuous". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  8. ^ Wicks, Heidi (2011-04-14). "Mad Men". The Independent.ca. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  9. ^ Ad Nauseam (2000). You Mean a Woman Can Open It...?. Adams Media. ISBN 1580623778.