Written By: The Zest Lab Creative Team

The 1960s saw a creative shift in the advertising industry. This storied era birthed iconic campaigns and classic tropes that shaped the world we’re in now. Six decades later, much of the craft, discipline, and methodologies at the root of this golden age are more relevant than ever.

Here’s a thought: your creative should be taking cues from The Golden Age Of Advertising before cell phones, digital, and instant gratification.

Consider the following, and let us know if we’re on to something:

Bold Imagery Grabs Attention

Then: Ads were visually striking, often using vibrant colors and compelling graphics to catch the eye. Innovations and breakthroughs in consumer technologies took advantage of this approach. Art directors and designers took a more abstract approach to convey their concepts visually. Take RCA’s AccuColor launch for example:

Now: In a cluttered digital space, bold imagery can cut through the noise, instantly drawing the viewer’s attention, and making a lasting impression.  It doesn’t necessarily mean more beautiful, more upscale, or more expensive.  That could make it mind-numbingly boring and a drop in the sea of sameness.  Bold means imagery that stands out.   

Punchy Copy Delivers a Strong Message

Then: Copy was concise, witty, and to the point, delivering the message effectively without overwhelming the reader. Anyone remember the “Lemon” Volkswagen ad?  The simple headline made you want to read on. Here’s a lesser known example featuring some devilish simplicity:

Now: With the shrinking attention spans of modern audiences, punchy and straightforward copy is more crucial than ever to convey your message quickly and memorably.  Grab them or shock them to learn more through engagement. 

Creative Concepts Drive Engagement

Then: Advertisers weren’t afraid to think outside the box, resulting in some of the most iconic and creative campaigns in history. The groundbreaking I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke jingle transcended beyond a marketing blitz and into an early example of going viral. 

Now: Customers are savvier than ever, and originality stands out. Embracing this level of creativity can differentiate your brand and create a deeper engagement with your audience beyond the screen.

Storytelling Builds Relationships

Then: Advertisements often told a story, not just about the product but about the lifestyle and values it represented. Copywriters took full advantage of this with the use of the three-column layout found in magazines:

Now: Storytelling remains a key tool in building a narrative around your brand, inviting customers to be a part of your world. The media world went from :60 seconds to :30 to :15 to :05.  Look at what Chevrolet did this Holiday Season. Long-form storytelling is not only more effective than every—it also is more engaging.  If it’s good, they will pay attention. 

The Golden Age of Advertising was not a revolution.  It came out of an understanding of the media channels available, a deep understanding of the audience, and a reliance on boldness.   To break out will require something very different.  Another beautiful, styled image of your product in a :15 spot or on Instagram won’t do it.   Take the time to learn and embrace the lessons from the past to innovate for the future. You never know where it could take you.