Friday, March 21, 2014

Helen E. Hokinsons for the Flit

Today the advertising campaign for Flit insecticide is remembered mostly for the fanciful artwork of Dr. Seuss and the effective tag line "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" At first bite, Helen E. Hokinson, who was known especially for her renditions of society matrons, seems an unusual choice of illustrator for the bug spray ads, but there no doubt was good reason to employ her talents. Her advertising artwork was specifically targeted to promote the Flit product to the independent women of the mid-1930's. That's why these "Bugbears" print ads were published in Woman's Home Companion and Good Housekeeping. Women were, after all, around during the daytime when summer flies and mosquitoes were at their peskiest, so why not teach them to do their own fumigating? In fact, the woman's club shown here is located deliberately in Owasco, a small upstate New York town in the Finger Lakes region where bothersome flies and mosquitoes are presumably a significant issue. The advertisements imply the product is both safe and easy to use. Flit is also supposed to be effective and economical ("It kills them all/The cost is small"). Two examples of Hokinson's artwork demonstrates the product being expertly used in a bustling woman's club meeting room and even by a grandmother dutifully protecting a young toddler from "nasty old flies."

Helen E. Hokinson, "Bugbears" Flit advertisement,
[Woman's Home Companion, June 1935 (

Helen E. Hokinson, "Bugbears" Flit advertisement
Housekeeping, June 1, 1935, page 100

Note:  Helen E. Hokinson has been mentioned on this blog here.

More advertising is here.


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