My grandfather was a family doctor, and back in the day, it was totally cool for pharmaceutical companies to adverties their products willy-nilly. Perhaps the most interesting promotional material he received were these ads for the diet pill Lidepran (levophacetoperane) sent out in 1964. Each advertisement featured a pressed butterfly—the wings were real, with a cardboard cutout for the body—on a coloured background card. I presume the butterfly was meant to convey lightness/thinness and hence weight loss.
Oddly, although all the envelopes—there are 12 of them, each with a different butterfly and background—are stamped with “Lidepran”, about half of the cards actually advertise another drug, Largactil (chlorpromazine). Largactil is an antipsychotic made by the same company as Lidepran.
I’ve been able to find very little about this advertising campaign online. The only other source I’ve seen is this, which shows the envelope and inside of one of the cards (which I haven’t bothered to scan), and doesn’t indicate that any of them actually advertised Lidepran.
Interestingly, the scientific name of each butterfly was on each card, and they appear to be correctly identified at least to genus. They’re also from outside of North America. I wonder how they sourced these specimens, and whose idea the whole campaign was.