Back in the 1970s, however, One-A-Day multivitamins (with added iron!) were the only way a woman could really, truly have it all. That is, if she was a relatively healthy woman who just wanted some extra vitamins she didn’t seriously need because One-A-Day couldn’t legally promise anything more.
In the early 1960s, advertising exec A.G. "Jeff" Wade had discovered a study from the University of Iowa claiming that about 80 percent of women lacked iron and could benefit from iron supplements, marking the beginning of vitamin companies' focus on women, according to the book Vitamania: Vitamins in American Culture by Rima Dumbrow Apple.
As women's lib took hold, this focus took a clear (shapely) shape: the One-A-Day Girl. Much like the Marlboro Man or the Geritol woman, the One-a-Day Girl (yes, girl) embodied a lifestyle, an ideal: a target demographic.
While One-A-Day deserves some credit for seemingly attempting to be progressive while still trying to appeal to the masses, by today’s standards, the campaign was cloying at best and condescending at worst.
Notably, a paper published in 1977 in the Journal of Marketing Research advised that despite feminist-driven calls for a shift in how women's roles were portrayed in media, advertisers should be wary of capitalizing on “‘in vogue’ attitudes” and cater to more “deeply rooted value changes.”
In other words, companies need not waste time nor money on feminist or women’s lib attitudes, which the authors describe as “an affectation or a fad or both.” So it's possible that One-A-Day ads featuring a woman doing anything other than being a stay-at-home mom (while also definitely being a mom) was revolutionary enough for the brand.
With an attitude like that from marketers, how can you blame these One-A-Day Girls for simply being stiff Stepford wives with an upgraded operating system?
Yeah, let’s go back and take a look at that face:
Ladies and gentlemen: the One-A-Day Girl. There she is, your ideal.