I’m not a massive fan of nostalgia. I think we spend far too much time looking back. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but it tends to be done while wearing rose-tinted glasses. As a result, we tell false stories about ourselves and the way things used to be. But more than that: I think it promotes cautiousness because we’re too busy analysing and reflecting on the past rather than leaping headlong – maybe recklessly – into the future.
Anyway. The other day I got to thinking about why I love advertising so much. Not as a creator of advertising, but as a consumer of advertising. And that got to me thinking about how I was as a kid: one of those who just devoured information and words and images. I just couldn’t get enough of information. I loved ads when I was a kid because they were packed with information. You could sit and lose yourself in them – particularly in the press ads that I used to read in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms. This would be the mid-seventies when copywriting was still the main feature of press ads.
I realise now that what I really loved about them was that they were all about communication. About persuasion. About reaching out and really trying to engage with people. To be a bit soppy – I think there’s something really noble and admirable about that. I mean, really, going to all that trouble to sell washing powder or tins of luncheon meat. It’s what separates us from the animals.
Anyway. Here’s a site devoted to some great vintage advertising. Many of them are copy heavy and that’s a good thing. They work because they’re beautifully written and because they don’t treat the potential readers as idiots. And they all communicate and persuade. You don’t get the feeling that what you’re looking at didn’t just come from a desire to simply show off or be clever – even though they are clever.
Click the Volkswagen ad to see the rest: