History and Modern Advertising in the 60s and 70s Part 4

About the history of advertising in the 60s and 70s, modern advertising and self-regulation, transit ads, the emergence of advertising companies.


Transit ads--small posters inside buses and subways--do $70 million of business every year. More than 70,000 mass transit vehicles carry transit advertising in 380 urban U.S. markets, and more than 40 million people are believed to ride on such vehicles every month.

Time magazine discussed the effects of image overload: ". . . After 20 years of hard-sell harangue, viewers developed a kind of filter blend up front. They did not turn off their sets; they turned off their minds. Admen refer to that phenomenon as the 'fatigue factor,' but their research departments know it by the more ominous name of CEBUS (Confirmed Exposure But Unconscious). In one recent survey, 75% of the viewers tested had no recollection of what products they had just seen demonstrated." In another study, however, a man under hypnosis recalled word-for-word a commercial he had heard 20 years earlier.

The 1970s saw the emergence of the multinational advertising agency/holding company, with offices and affiliates all over the world. The 10 largest advertising companies based on sums they spent for their clients in 1974:

1) Denfsu Advertising (Japan) $907.7 million

2) J. Walter Thompson (U.S.) $867.5 million

3) Young and Rubicam International (U.S.) $750.5 million

4) McCann-Erickson (U.S.) $703.3 million

5) Leo Burnett Co. (U.S.) $577.7 million

6) Ted Bates (U.S.) $565.8 million

7) Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn (U.S.) $525.5 million

8) Ogilvy and Mather International (U.S.) $523.7 million

9) Grey Advertising (U.S.) $391.0 million

10) Doyle, Dane, Bernbach (U.S.) $355.1 million

This ad was withdrawn from circulation: An ad for Springmaid sheets showed an Indian maiden on a mattress with her dress hiked up; next to her lay an exhausted Indian male. The ad's headline read, "A buck well spent on a Springmaid sheet."

Is there self-regulation within the advertising industry? Of course--a board, a code, designed to evaluate the industry's output. Here's an example of how it works (reported by Jerry Della Femina in From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor): A Ted Bates commercial featured a kid with a toy machine gun. He stood on a mound of dirt and massacred his "enemies." The ad was denied approval. However, the reviewers rejected it not because it showed a child with a machine gun but because they felt the ad would confuse viewers by somehow suggesting that the mound of dirt came with the gun.

An adman, Kenneth A. Longman, summarized the criticisms which have been leveled at advertising: "Advertising sells people things they neither need nor want. . . . Advertising imposes uniformity on the populace. Advertising generates senseless proliferation of a variety of goods and services. Advertising results in higher prices. Advertising is false and misleading. Most advertising is irrelevant. Most advertising exhibits bad taste--or sponsors it. Advertising is too intrusive. Advertising regulates discussion of public issues through its control of the news media."

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