Think Different

April 6, 2009

I was thinking about the changes in the advertising business and I decided to look back on the top 100 ad campaigns of the 20th Century as chosen by Ad Age magazine.

Their top choice: “Think Small,” Doyle Dane Bernbach’s Volkswagen campaign that began in 1959.campaign_vw

A striking thing about the list is that only one of the top 10 campaigns was from the last 25 years: Wieden & Kennedy’s “Just Do It” for Nike, which began in 1988.

Yet despite the fact that many of these ad campaigns took place 30, 40, 50 years ago — some even go back 100 years — their slogans remain a part of our shared language.

  • “Good to the last drop” — 1959
  • “Mmm, mmm, good” — 1930s
  • “When it rains, it pours” — 1912
  • “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” — 1954
  • “Breakfast of champions” — 1930s

When the advertising business was focused on a dozen or so national magazines, three or four radio networks and, later, three TV networks, these ads had the power to become part of our collective consciousness.

That power is waning by the month. I wonder whether the latest Twitter or Facebook phenomenon could ever have the staying power of “Ring around the collar.”