FREE Book reveals the COVID Snake-Oil marketing cures are nothing new…

I have a Kiwi mate dear reader, Henry Newrick, who decided to put the current lock-down to some good use. Mind you, New Zealand (like Australia) is a good place to be if you’re trying to avoid COVID-19.

Henry is a long time publisher and entrepreneur. He’s worked for more than 50 years in New Zealand, Asia, Europe and the USA, so he’s seen his share of crises.

He has put together a small publication (72 pages) consisting of advertisements, cartoons, comic strips and headlines – all about the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918/1919.

For example here’s the ad that probably prompted the Trumpster to recommend disinfectant as a cure for COVID-19:

Maybe we could inject a disinfectant – The Trumpster

Most people think that the Spanish Flu originated in Spain. This was not so and the first recorded case was on March 11, 1918 a long way from Spain. This was exactly 8 months to the day before the end of World War 1 on November 11. Henry provides the details in his book.

Of course in 1918 there were not the communications that we have today, nor the medical facilities to treat the very ill. As a result the final death toll was somewhere between 50-100 million – a figure much greater than all the dead and wounded in the War. The exact numbers killed by the Spanish Flu will never be known.

Today’s snowflakes would not have coped in this quarantine…

The current whinging by seemingly sane adults about the struggles with lock-down makes you wonder about their capacity for work. I’ve seen posts for motivational podcasts, tips for “surviving’ the lock-down, guides for success and a stream of COVID-CRAP – how would today’s snowflake executives have survived the Spanish Flu?

And just as the COVID-CYBER-HUSTLERS have flooded our inboxes with digital snake-oil, so to the Spanish Flu was a great time for the snake-oil salesmen to come out in force with all sorts of treatments to either ward off getting the flu or to cure it if already afflicted.  Here are just a few of the products whose advertisements can be found in Henry’s book.

  • Eat more Onions (one of the best preventatives for influenza)
  • Veno’s Cough Mixture (prevents Spanish Flu deaths!)
  • Jeye’s Fluid (the ideal disinfectant – guards against influenza)
  • Wampole’s Paraformic Lozenges (guard against Spanish Influenza)
  • Eat More Candy, Have less Flu
  • Milton Kills the Influenza Germs
  • Escape the Flu with a New Edison
  • Gin Pills to beat the flu
  • Dr Pierce’s Pleasant Pellets (cleans your mouth, skin and bowels)
  • Foley’s Honey and Tar (spreads warmth)
  • Drink Bovril (liquid life that prevents influenza and colds)
  • Take Cascara Quinine (at the first sign of influenza)

You’ll also recognise that BIG DATA is nothing new – it’s just new to marketers who didn’t use data prior to the internet. Mind you, most cannot get their small data right, let alone the BIG stuff.

BIG DATA showing curve flattening in 1918-19

To get your FREE copy of “Classic Ads, Cartoons, Comics & Headlines – The Spanish Flu” just click on this link.

You don’t fill in any forms, no data is kept by me. But you will notice Henry’s also published the 6 volume set of Classic Ads ( which runs to more than 3,300 pages. You can buy that from Henry if you like.

And once again I’m reminded of George Santayana, the Spanish Philosopher who is famously quoted as saying:

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it

And Henry Newrick proves him right again.

Study your marketing history folks and you’ll be way more successful…


  1. Even before George Santayana was some bloke called Solomon who said something like, “The thing that hath been, it is the thing that shall be and that which is done is that that shall be done and there is no new thing under the sun.”
    Thank you for this post – and Henry Newrick too.

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