How the 1960s changed the advertising industry

October 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

A lot happened in the early 1960s that changed the world, everything from the free speech movement launch, to the surgeon general’s report on smoking, to the beginning of the war on poverty. But that’s not all that changed, and no, I’m not talking about the first mini-skirt, but advertising. Advertising went through a lot of changes in the early 1960s and most of these are thanks to Bill Bernbach.

Bill Bernbach was one of the first of his era to hire women and people of color in the industry. For the first time in history, the advertising industry wasn’t just “Ivy League White guys.” Bernbach helped art directors and writers work as partners and knew the value of honesty. He created truthful ads that told stories people could connect with.

I love this ad. It’s basic and minimalistic. It works to tell a story, showing the VW as “every man’s” car.  The character of the man who drives the snowplow adds a personal touch, allowing VW to connect with its consumers on a closer level, in addition to showing the practical side of its product and that it isn’t eccentric. This was a new approach to advertising that no agency had used before. By connecting with the audience on a personal level, Bernbach knew he could gain the consumers trust, which was necessary to develop a loyal customer base for VW.

“You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen.”

-Bill Bernbach

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