Take a look back at mid-20th-century advertising and you’ll forgive us for being grateful it is no more.
Major brands including Kellogg’s featured sexist slogans like “The Harder a Wife Works, The Cuter She Looks”. Whilst other brands touted purely fictional pseudoscience; Think Camel cigarettes as being “The Doctor’s Favorite Brand,” or ads promoting cola consumption by babies as case in point.
Back then, creativity was an afterthought to clients needs. Work lacked courage and curiosity. Repetitive jingles with lackluster copy were forcibly etched into the minds of consumers. Creatives were seen as paintbrushes for hire, few women graced agency offices, and the entire industry paid lip service to the past. There’s a joke that characterizes the period perfectly. It goes: “What time is it?” asked a client. “What time would you like it to be?” answered the account executive.
Though when baby boomers began to come of age a tidal change ensued. From social issues to the arts and advertising this new generation was looking to disrupt the status quo.
Soon after the advertising industry mastered TV, appropriated the medium of photography for more than just demonstrative product shots, and produced work of unprecedented creativity. Rather than looking to the past, advertising finally stood up straight and began facing forward. The change started with seeds sewn by a tenacious few brave enough to speak up.
Legendary creatives like Sir John Hegarty wanted to translate the unprecedented cultural-revolution occurring on the streets of London into the soul of his work. He did this in his own unique way. Fed up with his square agency, he played pranks on the account, or ‘yes’ men who did whatever clients wanted.
George Lois, based in New York threatened to throw himself out of a 3rd story window in the name of seeing his work run and crafted classy campaigns that shifted products whilst unapologetically making political statements.
Paula Green, supposedly a real-life Peggy Olson from AMC’s Mad Men created campaigns for the world famous agency DDB that unashamedly showcased the struggles she faced as an agency woman. The Avis V Hertz “We are number 2 so we try harder” spot was, as Green describes, “In some ways the story of my life.”
With this in mind, it seems only right that AW360 pays tribute to the brave men and women whose form of creative activism led to profound change throughout the industry. Stories like these, both unique and absurd in equal measure, are the subject of an AW360 Originals animated series named Craftsmen of Creativity: Tales of a Creative Revolution.
Over the course of 2018, we’ll be releasing episodes accompanied by supplementary content so you can dive deeper. You’ll learn of the history of this great industry as well as the societal and cultural circumstances under which our creative heroes were operating. And of course, you’ll be entertained along the way.