The golden age of advertising...what does it mean to you?
Close your eyes and let your mind wander for a moment. Let your mind conjure up the most extravagant of advertising and we bet you'll pull something you saw in the 1950's, 60's, or 70's to the forefront of your mind. Maybe you saw it first hand or maybe as a memory in a textbook from someone else, but we've all seen flickers of the golden age of advertising.
How did the golden age of advertising come about though?
The early parts of the 1900's are certainly to be held accountable here. With the roaring 20's money flowed like water. Stocks were up, the Rockefellers were making bank, and people were looking for an easy jazz filled life to call their own. By the end of the decade though the stock market was whimpering and people were seeing the cold hard effects of Black Tuesday. A general panic had set in and in the aftermath, thousands of workers were displaced, the economy tanked, and people went into survival mode with a scarcity mindset as their last defense. This created a generation of those who were careful with money, spent little, and was content to live with what they had, but their children longed for more.
World War II came along next and rations, a sluggish economy, and a bitter taste in the mouth of many Americans from the Great Depression still lingered. Most were careful with what they purchased and often re-purposed items to give them a new lease on life. Folks were feeling strained though and longed for the good life. In America the American Dream is financial security and to pull yourself up to greater things from hardship. So when the fifties rolled around it was no surprise that everyone was ready for a change. So when the 50's came along a consumerist society was born and is still apparent in our culture today.
Advertising for things consumers want...
My grandmother lived through the Great Depression, in fact, she was born just a few years before it began. She got what she needed and had the essentials throughout her childhood, but wanting things was another matter. She'd often tell us to wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which got full faster. Her way of saying that you could wish all day but the reality was still going to be there. People were buying clothes, farm equipment, seed for crops, and basic household necessities. Each member of the house would have had their basic necessities in the best case scenario, but toys or gadgets would have been very scarce indeed unless they were homemade or hand me downs.
So when my grandparents had kids after the war they loved spoiling them and us grand-kids later as well. The 50's brought kids toys in mass, televisions, more recreational sports, and bigger cars that shone like gold. Food wasn't scarce and rationing was over. Employment rates were good too and disposable income was back in the game. Consumer entertainment like movies, eating out, and drive-in shows were all popular. Music and records were selling fast and women's clothing was making a comeback in window displays like never before. Housework was also getting easier too as women purchased vacuums, washers, dryers, and more. So advertising naturally geared up for this consumerist economy and began advertising with the good life in mind.
So what can we learn from this period of advertising?
Know your consumers and what their goals are. Are they looking for essentials or looking to keep up with the Joneses? Do they have disposable income or are they living at or below poverty level?
What products or services are in demand in today's market? Without a demand there's no need for a supply. :)
Keep it honest! Some brands even during this time had issues with promoting things that their product could never accomplish or omitting safety concerns from slogans or materials presented to the public.
Branding really is important and often image is everything when a first impression may be your last opportunity to present your product. I've said it time and again, but I think Red Bull is truly the best example of this in today's market.
Make an emotional connection or offer your consumer an emotional experience. We all like to feel good and as long as you're honest, there's no harm in promoting peace of mind, safety, or anything else that your product or service can truly provide. Allstate's Mayhem did a great job of this in recent years as does Subaru in many cases.
Sometimes you can learn what not to do as well, so keep in mind that consumers have feelings and no one likes a politically incorrect or rude ad in most cases.
Need help with your branding strategy or advertising materials? Drop us a line and we'll be glad to take a look! Have a great week and we'll see you next time.
Oh and check out some of these ads from the 50's and 60's to see just what the golden age of advertising was really like for yourself!