Advertising has had to adapt constantly as technology has evolved. Print advertisements in newspapers and magazines were common as far back as the eighteenth century, but with the emergence of radio and television in the twentieth century, advertising once again had to shift gears.
In the 1920s, companies began purchasing air time and sponsoring radio shows. By 1938, ad spend on radio airtime surpassed ad spend on magazines. In 1941, the first TV advertisement aired, which was a Bulova watch commercial shown right before the Dodgers and Phillies game.
Though these were all exciting advancements, they occurred near the start of World War II. Due to rationing and material shortages, advertising during the war focused less on individual products, stressing patriotism and instilling a sense of desire for the brands when they would be available again post-war.
Public service messages were also a huge part of wartime advertising. The United States’ War Advertising Council was formed in the early 1940s and created iconic campaigns including Smokey Bear, the mascot for wildfire prevention efforts.
In the 1950s when the war was over and previously rationed products became more available, both consumerism and advertising reignited. Iconic ads like The Marlboro Man and Tony the Tiger were produced in the 1950s. During this time, ads portrayed an idealized world where family values and wifely duties were highlighted and consumer products were painted as necessities. Because of the baby boom, household appliances and cars were popular items.
Today’s ads instill the same same sense of consumer desire, but they do so by selling an idea rather than a product. Social influencers sell an idealized lifestyle, bolstered by the products and services they promote. Lyft and Airbnb sell an experience. The product itself isn’t the centerpiece anymore, but what would advertisements look like if it was?
We reimagined popular tech companies as vintage ads to see what some of our favorite products and services might look like if they were marketed with a different mindset.
Airbnb Reimagined as Vintage
Lyft Reimagined as Vintage
Snapchat Reimagined as Vintage
Spotify Reimagined as Vintage
Tesla Reimagined as Vintage
Looking back on vintage advertisements allows for more than just parody. Comparing previous decades with the appearance of contemporary advertisements shows the evolution of society. The values and priorities can be seen as well as the technological changes. As you look through your favorite magazine or scroll your newsfeed, think about what the ads you see say about your interests and society at large.