The tragedy is that, not all that long ago, in the golden age of advertising — and arguably that of American corporations as well — the advertising business was full of Big Thinkers and Big, insightful, pre-emptive, meaningful, memorable, compelling Ideas. Let’s say, from the early ’60s through the late ’80s. American business was at its creative best and, probably not uncoincidentally, so was the advertising business. And when the advertising business was good, it was very good. Some of the following may pre-date your birth. But I really don’t think it matters, their brilliance transcends time.
Advertising is no longer what it used to be. During the golden age of advertising, creativity flourished and advertisers focused on creating an emotional connect with brands. This was also a time of societal and cultural revolution. An anti-establishment counterculture, alternative lifestyles, sub cultures, and civil, sexual, and women’s rights. Creativity and thinking outside of the box was embraced and experimented with. This shift in the way people expressed themselves greatly influenced the way in which advertisements were created.
Now, if you doubt that we’re in the midst of an outbreak of mediocrity, watch the next Super Bowl broadcast — that most orgasmic, ego-driven of all commercial media venues. $12 million for sixty-seconds worth of air time, plus production and talent. What you will see is lots and lots of entertainment, music, dancing, singing, celebrities galore, and embarrassingly expensive production budgets. What I’m certain you will not see is a single Big compelling Idea. Not one. What you will hear is the sound of $435 million worth of media money being flushed down the drain.
I am in search for the next Big Idea. I want an idea so big and so great, that it transports me back to the golden age of advertising.
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