Love it or hate it, advertising is a huge part of our society. It literally permeates every facet of our lives. While nobody likes to constantly be pitched or sold to we have all grown up being exposed to the same advertisements. Your age determines what ads are your earliest recollected ones and it often brings back vivid memories when we think about them. Sometimes our very opinion of advertising may have been formed at an early age, as to whether we always trust what is promised by them. This healthy skepticism carries over into adolescence then adulthood; as well it should, because having good judgement is important, but sometimes ads are just plain cool.
Some of the television ads I remember best are the ones for GI Joe from the early 70′s. Also, I always got a kick out of that Chuck Wagon Dog Food ad when the dog chased the stagecoach across the kitchen, or that Santa riding that razor through the snow around Christmas time. All of these were great but I think the ads that really made the biggest impact were comic book ads. They were so compelling you didn’t care what the product was, you just knew you wanted it.
Imagine how fantastic it would be to have live Sea Monkeys in my own bedroom for hours of enjoyment. To have these amazing creatures living in a viewable, self-contained world unto themselves, right there just to entertain me. As I watched them play, frolic, and laugh like some sort of little anthropomorphic humans. Even after being disappointed by what they actually turned out to be, I think the idea of the world that was created in the illustrations in those comics created an overall positive experience to look back on and laugh.
Of course Sea Monkeys weren’t the only attraction; there was the 7-foot tall Frankenstein, Hypno-coins and Hand-Buzzers, the plastic Army soldiers… and who can forget the X-Ray glasses? Wow! Will they really work? What about good ole’ Charles Atlas going from wimp to he-man in no time. That little pre-Rocky tale never did fail to inspire us. Then there was the Hovercraft kit; now there’s one I never got to try out. Hmm, never too late.
But it didn’t stop with comic books it carried over into other magazine and TV ads. I remember this Koogle Peanut Butter commercial with a giant jar of peanut butter dancing around with googly eyes, it was so funny I had to try it; and when I finally did, the stuff was practically inedible. Luckily some products exceeded their touted greatness; the GI Joe gear was always top notch, there were some really good board games, video games, movies, and candy… Hey, Whatever happen to the $100,000 Bar or Marathon Candy Bars?
This post doesn’t really have any hard-line marketing message, but it does remind me of how powerful advertising can be. I think ethics are important in representing a product accurately but it’s also important to entertain and take the audience on a trip. Even a child really knows those Sea Monkeys aren’t going to play underwater basketball, it’s just part of the escapism and temporary suspension of belief that is part of the fun. Barring any false claims being made or implied, maybe we should take a cue from chidhood when thinking of our next marketing approach.
What are some of your earliest memories of advertisements and how did they affect your opinion of marketing? Did we become acquainted with the sentiment, “if something is too good to be true it probably is.” Especially when the product didn’t measure up to your expectations or if the anticipation was actually greater than obtaining the thing itself. Were you aware of the ad working its magic on you making you want something or do you think it didn’t make much of a difference at all? Please comment and share some of your own experiences.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers and clients!