George Tannenbaum writes a blog in NYC about advertising.
Recently he talked about 1960s advertising.
And how good it was.
Several anonymous comments disagreed.
They said it belonged in a museum.
It may have been good in its day, but it had no relevance nowadays.
It was like the dinosaurs.
It was irrelevant and there was nothing we could learn from it.
It belonged in the past and was best forgotten.
Well, whilst that’s true it’s also stupid.
True, the advertising world has changed.
But it’s changed because that advertising changed it.
Once something really revolutionary happens, it changes everything that comes after it.
So, if it looks out-of-date, it’s because the new world is the world it created.
The world after the revolution.
Sure advertising has moved on.
It’s better shot, better lit, better cast, better edited.
It has more money spent on it.
More technology applied to it.
But it’s not any better thought out, or any better written.
Or any better observed.
It’s not cleverer, or more daring, or insightful.
It’s not brave or revolutionary.
It’s just slicker.
Decades later, and all we’ve added to those ads is slicker execution.
So those old ads would look crude nowadays.
But not the thinking.
The thinking was game changing.
When was the last time you saw any game-changing thinking?
Anything that didn’t depend on a production company for its value?
That’s why it’s stupid to say those ads wouldn’t work nowadays.
That’s missing the point.
That’s like saying what if Newton discovered gravity nowadays?
Who would care?
We can put a man on the moon.
We don’t need that stuff, everything’s moved on.
His time has passed.
What if Orson Wells made Citizen Kane now?
Big deal, we’ve got movies that do all those things.
It was in black & white.
It wasn’t even in colour, let alone 3D like Avatar.
What’s all the fuss about?
What if The Beatles made Sergeant Pepper now?
It would be outdated, old-fashioned.
Oasis is doing better stuff than that.
What about Marcel Duchamp and his readymades?
If he did them today they would look dull.
Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons, Sarah Lucas, and Damien Hirst are more interesting.
Despite the fact that what they’re doing is repeating and refining what Duchamp did 70 years ago.
Alfred North Whitehead said “All philosophy is footnotes to Plato.”
I think all advertising is footnotes to Bernbach.