Advertising has been a staple in American culture since the first ad ran in 1704, exerting influence in our thoughts, actions and perceptions. According to Ad Age, the first ad ran in the Boston News Letter seeking a buyer for an Oyster Bay, Long Island estate. Since this time, numerous platforms have emerged such as television and Internet, casting an even larger net to reach consumers.
In the 60’s through the 70’s women were depicted as housewives cooking, cleaning and preparing a hot meal for their husband. During this period, ads revealed family values, lifestyles and stereotypical roles of the time. It was during the 70’s that advertising became the “rock and roll” industry of the business world. The jingles that were created became the songs of childhood, there was simplicity in fixed gender roles and there were few social or environmental concerns, casting a favorable light on this golden age.
As the 80’s and 90’s rolled around, advertising evolved from a means to build businesses and sell products to entertainment. During the 80’s, Reebok paved the way with celebrity endorsements, giving them a leg up on the competition. The 90’s propelled companies such as Nike and Mac into the mega-brands that they are today. It was during this time that Mac aired the infomercial-style sitcom, The Martinetti’s Bring a Computer Home, which created buzz around the brand and Nike coined the phrase, “Just Do It.” Facebook was not around to kick-start a campaign and incredible ads did not have the opportunity to go “viral.” Agencies were forced to be creative and innovative in their approach in order to resonate with viewers.
By the 2000’s, the industry returned to conservatism. Disclaimers grace every pharmaceutical advertisement, while others make sure to keep “bogus claims” in check. Regardless if it is 1960 or 2013, one aspect has remained the same- ads still have an emotional appeal, which draws the viewer in and pushes them to action. When looking in the rear view mirror at the road advertising has traveled, it is easy to develop a deep appreciation of the journey.