A graphic which has circulated for several years allegedly shows a WD-40 ad from 1964 rife with sexual innuendos.
Let’s first take a look at the ad in question, which has been generously shared on social media in recent years.
— Brilliant Ads (@Brilliant_Ads) April 5, 2015
Much of the text in the ad above includes double entendres, such as “Do you have tight nuts or a rusty tool?” or “Makes screwing a pleasure.”
The ad was discussed on Reddit back in late 2014, and one reader there found a reference to the text in a usenet post back in 2000.
The first clue that the ad is not real can be found in the text. The official name of the product was never written with a space – even in the early 1960’s – as shown in the graphic above. A hyphen has always been used in ads for the product. The text is also too uniform to match the changing texture of the background. This is especially noticeable where the word “Do” appears over a torn or stained section, but does not look different than the rest of the text as would be expected.
Even though – based on the clues above – we were reasonably convinced the graphic was fake, we decided to reach out to the company in hopes of confirming or denying that the graphic is in fact not real. We received a response from an Assistant Brand Manager, who told us the following.
WD-40 Company does not believe that the ad that has been making the rounds on the Internet – and is purported to be an actual ad from the 1960s – is real. We first saw this document in late October, and have not been able to verify its existence through our internal records.
In addition, there are several features of the ad that lead us to believe it is not accurate and has been created more recently. First, the paper in the ad appears old and wrinkled, but the type on the ad does not, which indicates the text is probably something that was added to a digital background. Second, we would have likely used WD-40 with a hyphen, which does not appear in the ad. And third, it is highly unlikely that WD-40 Company would have authorized such an ad, even in the 60s when ad standards were less stringent than they are now.
We do have some of our actual historical ads on our website at http://wd40.com/gallery under the Historical USA Ads tab.
The 1964 WD-40 ad filled with sexual overtones is not real. A company representative told us they only first saw the document in October 2014 and have no record of the ad. They also noted that the name is not presented properly, using a hyphen, which is one of many clues that it’s fake.
Updated December 9, 2015
Originally published April 2015