I am twenty-three years old and I'm certain that in my lifetime I've never seen a print advertisement for a pencil. Maybe its because we're stuck looking at ads for electronics and expensive pens instead. Or maybe it's because there isn't enough mainstream competition anymore. Just got to any Staples or Target and you'll find that you have no more than two or three options. I'm not going to say that its sad that pencils aren't advertised like they used to be because really, they don't need to be.
Even before cheap mechanical pencils and other writing instruments rose in popularity pencils weren't commonly advertised, especially after the 1940s. Most of them were published in magazines like Forbes or the Saturday Evening Post and were targeted towards artists and designers. You might recognize the ones for Mongol with the cute girl or the standard ones for Eagle or Ticonderoga but my favorites were for Venus Velvet in the mid-1930s. They satisfied all of the advertising standards of their time, including the essay long description of the product and the detailed and very literal illustrations. The thing that sets them apart is the simplicity of their message " ______ was started with a pencil". Fill that blank in with the Empire State Building, the Queen Mary, Pan Am and many other culturally significant mid-century things. Something about it still seems very current and I wonder what would happen if we turned the page in Vanity Fair and found and ad that read "The iPhone was started with a pencil". Really though, isn't almost everything started with a pencil?