Dec 18, 2010

Fascinating Adverts From The 1970’s

Advertising experienced a golden again between the 1950's and 1970's.

Recently I researched ads from the 1970's specifically and in this post I am sharing some of my favourites...

...I am doing this because they instantly helped me generate some cool new ideas.

...Plus I am quietly confident when you compare these golden-age ad's with today's somewhat lame ad's you too will experience influx of new ideas based on 1970's golden age thinking.

I have included the headline of each ad in a heading tag above each image:

Handy Ideas From Big Red

I just haven't seen an ad like this recently.

I am sure there probably is one.

Yet this style just isn't commonplace. Why?

The idea here is hot. The advertiser is branding the product as the optimum solution for the prospect by being informational.

In our information overloaded world where the demand for information is much bigger than in the 1970's this perhaps above all on this list if the one style of ad you could adapt for the 21st century the easiest...

Say you're a web designer called Fred.

Freddy, you could have an ad like this with 6 ideas what to do after you design your prospect's website. And Fred because you are a hot designer every site you make gives your prospect a blog an optin form on every page, a contact page, and a laser-focused-landing-page for use with PPC advertising.

Fred here is an example of how you're 1970's inspired ad may be structured:

  1. Get interviewed by the offline media and then send people to your site.
  2. Record a series of simple YouTube videos and brand them with your website.
  3. Phone up your best 10 customers and tell them to register for a free newsletter on your site.
  4. Become friends with a top Digg user and tell them to Digg your post on "10,000 ways to hangup the phone" blog post :).
  5. Link to your site on your Facebook and Twitter.
  6. Buy traffic from Google and send to your landing page so you generate leads while you sleep eat and go to the toilet.

The distinction with this approach is instead of beating your prospect over the head with what your features you can vividly illustrate how they can use your features and thus benefit from them.

What you don't know about tires can be expensive

When was the last time you saw so much text to sell a tire!?

Perhaps companies don't advertise like this anymore because the people of the 21st century don't have sufficient attention-spans? Shame.


Nonetheless, it feels a joy to read. Gulf is positioned as a conversational friend writing me a letter showing they care about me all while explaining in easy to understand language while their particular type is the business.

There's A Better Way To Go

The contrast is clear. Without this solution due to the energy crisis you're going to need to go back to victorian times to get around...but with this solution you can cure energy crisis drama with a simple tweak under the hood of your car.

This sort of approach could be adapted for the 21st century in so many ways...

Imagine you have just developed a premium WordPress theme...You could have an image of a clueless blonde trying to frantically learn PHP, CSS, HTML and SEO with her laptop screen showing a broken WordPress theme in front of her...then contrast this with your easy peazy wordpress theme which cuts out all coding and is SEO friendly from as soon as you switch it on with your mouse...

93 Ways to get a perfect fit!

One glance at this and you'd have to be a caveman not to understand this brand of shoes have an almost endless choice of shoe sizes for the "perfect fit". Simple yet effective.

How could this be adapted to the 21st century internet entrepreneur?


Let's say you create an iPhone app for sending people you know birthday messages...

...And the unique part of your app is the 76 different templates for saying 'Happy Birthday'...

You could present this feature in a paragraph of text OR you could line up 76 screenshots of the different templates beneath a headline like "76 Ways To Say Happy Birthday".

Well perhaps this is not the best example, you've probably got a better one. If so...good. You can leave it in a comment below.

Anyway, onward:


The sell here is "peace of mind". You're getting air conditioning for the same price as it would cost if you installed it yourself except you don't have to install it yourself, one of these 5 happy people is here to do it for you.

It works longer than you do.

The big idea here "It works longer than you do" is still in use in Right Gaurd's advertising of today - which proves this idea has worked and continues to work...

How could you adapt this for the 21st century?

Let's say you have a system which automates the execution of a pay per click marketing campaign...your big idea could be "It works while you sleep" or you could say "It's a better than the best salesman in the world" (because obviously whoever the best salesman in the world is, they have to sleep, eat, and have to maintain some sort of a social life...conversely an automatic marketing machine works 24 hours a day 7 days a week all without food, sleep and miller time requirements.

Raise the roof tonight in a Dodge Charger.

What does this say to you? It says to me "COOL. Right now it's saturday and I would just love to get my hands on one of these to "raise the roof". I am sold. How about you?

ONLY DATSUN has the small pickup with room inside for long legs and large roads

Have a question about motor oil? Lubricants? Engines? Ask the Pennzoil experts...

At first glance no features and no benefits are clear. In fact there isn't even one of those headlines set in futura type. The advertiser isn't really selling here, what they are doing is positioning.

What do you make of it?

Have you seen an ad like this recently?

I haven't.

14 Day Free Trial How to form your own corporation without a lawyer for under $50

This is classic direct response. It's got a order form you cut out and mail plus a guarantee 'and wait there's more!' it's got testimonials and text galore...

I know for a fact this ad ran for years. A real winner.

How come I enjoy smoking and you don't?

Notice how the warning is so much smaller compared with cigarette ads of today...

The big idea here is "You'd enjoy smoking if you smoked Salem".

This isn't going to be the best example but I am pretty sure you'll get the idea...

As an example imagine you developed an iPhone app would connected with your email and color coded incoming email based on people who regularly email you. Your parents and family could be blue, your friends green, the love of your life red, and business emails black plus all other emails could have a loser transparency so when you look at an inbox of 100 emails or so you can see in an instant which emails matter...

This you could lead with "How come you don't enjoy checking your email when you have 100+ new emails? ... It's got to be my iPhone app EmailFocusColor. EmailFocusColor highlights emails which matter. You'd enjoy checking your email even when you have 100+ emails too if you used this EmailFocusColor iPhone app.".

...Very simple, yet it could be wickedly effective at communicating a benefit for your product related to a frustration your prospect is having...

Any ordinary camera could have taken this photograph. The Yashica FR is no ordinary camera.

Here the unique selling proposition is the star. Any average camera can take a picture like above...but any average camera has to stop at every stop whereas the the Yashica FR does not. The end result is the Yashica FR shoots what you see when you see it without any delay...

How could this be adapted to the 21st century internet entrepreneur?

It could be adapted to almost anything!

Think about it. Say you manufactured digital video cameras...You could begin with "Any ordinary digital camera could have captured this movie" then have a picture of a movie on YouTube... "The McAwesome R is no ordinary digital video camera" then talk about how an ordinary digital video camera doesn't have a built in video editor, or an ethernet port and an onboard application to upload straight to youtube pronto...

To install Fram wipers you don't even need a pair of pliers, just a pair of hands.

Here the focus is the classic 'complex made simple' idea at play...But here it's presented so vividly...

Nothing beats the feel of black velvet

You've heard it more times than you have fingers and toes multiplied by 45. Sex sells. Focus more on the ad, than the leggy blonde...and you could adapt the simple approach in this ad in a multitude of ways...

If you are called Victor and you sell a premium wordpress theme you could lead off with "Nothing beats the SEO success of Victor's SEO WordPress themes."

...Or if you had an iPhone app to wake up up with the music of your choice (yes I know there is one but I forget what it's called) you could have "Nothing beats the feel of waking up to dancing queen for Trevor" then insert a picture of Trevor the stereotypical gay hairdresser abba fanatic. Trevor just loves to wake up by mincing out of his bed while singing along to Dancing Queen ...

Before I begun this mission into 1970's advertising I had a suspicion the ads were superior than those of today. Now I am sure. How about you?

Let me know how these ads impacted on you plus how they compare to the ads of today.

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