Ads used to turn heads. Now they turn on ad blockers.
by Tobias van Schneider
Often, nostalgia gives an undeserved sparkle to memories. We remember the “good old days” with fondness and judge the present more harshly. We glaze over the bad times and remember only the pleasant ones, convinced things were better then. This is not the case with the Golden Age of Advertising.
The 1960s through the 1980s were the days of pure creativity. Advertisements were still sketched by hand and printed. Copywriters had big, original ideas (often arrived at over a martini or two at lunch). Ad people were also celebrities, respected for their creativity and cunning.
Of course, advertising culture is another story – just watch “Mad Men” if you’re unaware of the sexism in the industry, and general society, at that time.
What we’re speaking about here, though, are the advertisements themselves. They were good. A single print ad made a brand or redefined it. One sentence changed your perception, created a trend or built a loyal fanbase. An advertisement was a work of art.
Several decades later, the art of advertising is dead. What was once a full-page print ad is now a website banner. What was once a smart headline is now a tired pun. What was once nuanced is now on the nose. What was once focused on the consumer’s interests now leans on the product’s features. What was once simple is now overworked.
Ads today (with a few exceptions) are overlooked at best and annoying at worst, popping up on our screen and tricking us into clicks. Programmatic buying has turned advertising into pandering, intrusive slop. Advertising has changed so much we rarely call it advertising anymore. It is now, and I shudder to speak the word, “marketing.”
And so, we will continually reflect fondly on the Golden Age of Advertising and find our inspiration there. And perhaps this selection of ads from that era will inspire you as well.
Looking at these ads compared to those of today, don’t you agree we can all do better?