James Bingham was a naval officer and advertising genius in his day. His clients included The Airlines of the United States (a travel association), Association of Railroads (Travel association), Maxwell House Coffee, Gulf Oil, Cannon Towels, Caterpillar Tractor, Philadelphia Whisky, Alcoa Steamship Company, Champion Spark Plugs and U S Steel. The main purpose of advertising during this period was to build brand loyalty tied to support of our troops and the war effort with an eye towards post war consumerism.
His ads seem to be the precursor to the A&F style ad layout. Close to soft core porn as you could get in mainstream publications (Life etc.) in those days. Here are some towel ads. They could have easily been done by Tom of Finland. They ran in all the big magazines. And apparently gays in the military aren’t a new thing either.