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Creative Revolution of Advertising in the 1960s

Business Tips and Trends

The 1960s is the cornerstone of what has helped to define modern day advertising. This decade is the creative revolution marked by the “madmen” of advertising and their use of “self-deprecating humor, irreverence and irony to appeal to young consumers.” One great example is Volkswagen’s ad that zeroed in on the tiny bug’s “liabilities” and calling it things such as a “lemon.” Marketing efforts began to focus more on brands and their personality during this time as well. Other trends were the U.S. Census offering segmented data or demographics and psychographics to help the advertising industry target its consumers.

Graphically speaking, advertisers also began to focus more on color, large images and minimal type. This created a very “dramatic effect” in visual communication to consumers. Per what is mentioned above, Volkswagen nailed this.

Other notable changes in advertising and commerce during the 1960s:

  • Advertisers no longer have the complete control over how their ads fit into the TV programming network
  • Magazines remained the dominant medium for advertising
  • Large supermarket chains supersede independent supermarkets
  • Ad agencies operations grew as did how they dealt with clients
  • Toward the end of the 1960s clients demanded that the costs for advertising
    be justified
  • Market research became a priority

Other fun facts:

  • Big names in advertising were William Bernbach and Helmut Krone
  • Top agency of 1960 was J. Walter Thompson Co. ($370 million)
  • Top advertiser of 1960 was General Motors Corp. ($168.5 million)
  • Total U.S. ad spending in 1960 was $12.0 billion


Photo from the Writing for Designers.

Author: The Cheeps

"The Cheeps" are the chick designers that run Cheep Cheep Postcards and Cheep Cheep Websites, two divisions of Hunter-McMain, Inc. We're here to provide fun information on advertising design, business tips, and holidays--sometimes random--we would like to celebrate with you.

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